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Pros and Cons of Internet on Children. How can parents help their children?
Importance of Internet in the Current World
Man has stepped into the information age after passing through the stone age, bronze age and iron age. Knowledge is considered to be the supreme power of human beings belonging to this age. Internet is acting as a vital source of information for the current generation and is increasingly the main source of information for many people. Internet provides us the knowledge of almost every thing. If fact, there is no aspect of life which has remained untouched by the internet. Internet is being used by people of all age groups making it an integral part of our society. It is estimated that there are at least 1.5 billion internet users across the world and these numbers are increasing at the exponential rate every year. Internet has revolutionized various areas like education, shopping, advertising, job search, etc. It has brought about drastic changes in the ways in which people socialize and spend their leisure time.
Internet and Childhood
Childhood is the age of exploration. An average child is curious to discover new facts and explore new concepts. Internet provides a wealth of opportunity for children to expand their horizons. The development of the child depends upon the quality of education he or she gets and his or her interaction with the surroundings. Today, internet acts as a window which allows a child to peep into the outside world without leaving the four walls of the house. Internet has become a medium of information dissemination. Online classes and home schooling are becoming increasingly accepted. Gone are the days when people used to depend only on schools for education. Due to the upcoming developments in the usage of the internet, children living in small towns with limited access to internet are often left behind in the race for good opportunities. No doubt that internet has become the necessity of our children, but have you ever thought about the long term impacts of internet? Have you ever thought about the consequences of the conversion of healthy use of internet into unhealthy use?
The aim of this article is to throw light on both positive and negative effects of internet on children. This article also provides some tips to parents about how to regulate the internet usage by their kids, so that healthy use of internet does not get converted to unhealthy use.
Positive Impact of Internet on Children
Being a source of immense knowledge, internet promotes innovation, creativity and self learning in children. Use of internet for educational purposes in form of animations or pictures helps the students to understand the concept in a better manner. It makes the abstract concepts more clear. As a result, internet is regularly being used to impart general education is schools, colleges, universities, etc.
Promotes Cognitive Development
An increased exposure to information improves the quality of learning and strengthens the cognitive abilities such as memory, spatial and logical problem solving, critical thinking, etc. Proper use of the thesaurus or other literary sources promotes the literacy development and improvises both verbal and non-verbal skills.
Knowledge about Higher Education Opportunities
Now-a-days, a student’s education is not limited to a single place. Right from their childhood, children want to plan for their future. To acquire information about the resources available across the world, one has to rely on internet so that one can prepare themselves for the higher studies. Information about various courses offered at different colleges, jobs, etc is readily available on the net. Internet allows exploring all these opportunities of the real world while sitting on the chair.
Improvement of the Eye-Hand Coordination
Even though there is no research to prove it but, from personal experience, we can understand that the eye-hand coordination is improved by increased use of internet. Regular use of the keyboard or mouse improves the motor skills of a person.
Negative Impacts of Internet on Children
Development of Internet Addiction Disorder
The current usage of internet by children has increased to such an extent that some children consider internet to be as important as food, water or air. Use of internet has taken a shape of compulsive disorder when one cannot resist from using the internet. This stage is known as internet addiction. American psychological association has recognized this form of compulsive internet use as a psychological disorder known as Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD). People suffering from this mental disorder are involved in the problematic use of the internet.
How can parents identify internet addiction in their children?
The alarming signs of internet addictions are:
- The child starts feeling comfortable with online friends and stops mingling with the real friends.
- The child cannot stop himself from playing games or surfing aimlessly
- The child starts neglecting relationships with family members.
- The child starts avoiding school or his daily activities
- The child remains preoccupied with internet activities. For example, even though he is involved in physical work he might be thinking about the previous online activity or the upcoming session.
- Spends increased amount of time everyday on the internet.
- The child turns moody, depressed, irritated when asked to stop the use of internet.
- The child uses internet to escape from problems like unhappiness, depression, anxiety, etc.
If parents identify any of these symptoms in their children, they have to be on their heels and try to rectify it at an early stage so that the problem does not get aggravated.
Will these internet users grow up to build a health society?
Upsurge in Psychological Problems
Man is a social animal and cannot live in isolation. Children addicted to internet voluntarily keep themselves away from all social contacts increasing the chances of developing psychological problems. Research has shown that a large number of compulsive users of internet develop psychological problems like depression, low self esteem, inability to adjust, etc. Growing children might also engage themselves in self harming activities like suicidal attempts. Internet has been responsible for horrifying deaths across the world. For example, an internet addict from northern China who was just 26 years old, died due to cardiac arrest, after spending almost all the seven-day holiday in front of the computer screen, playing computer games.
Internet Interrupts Real Life Relationships
Internet isolates a child and increases the loneliness. The child starts neglecting the real world contacts and avoiding real friends. Children learn important values like sharing, caring, forgiving, etc when they interact with their friends, family members and people living in the surroundings. But the increased use of internet curbs this interaction, weakening the family bonds. They could grow up to become self-centered individuals. Children move from a realistic social world to a virtual social world. Children of today are the foundation to the future society. And any adverse effects of any information media should be controlled to create a prosperous society.
Lack of Physical Activity
It is very much clear that by sitting for long hours before the computer the child is going to succumb to problems like obesity. Lack of physical activity decelerates his physical development also.
Affects Of Internet on the Development of Attitude and Behavior of Children
By being constantly exposed to violent games, children might feel them to be real solutions to problems. They become desensitized to cruelty. As a result, they may show more pronounced aggressive behaviors as they consider violence to be an appropriate way of solving problems. Along with the violent games, other factors discussed above have a strong impact in modulating the child’s behavior.
Internet is a sophisticated channel for the distribution of adult content. Many times children open these sites by mistake, while doing their homework or when they have entered an innocuous word into a search engine unknowingly. Children do not have the correct maturity to understand these sites. As a result, their emotional development, interaction with the peer group and social activities get negatively impacted.
How can parents help their children?
In the current world of growing technology, we cannot keep our kids away from internet for a very long time. Moreover, this may hamper the child’s growth and development also. Hence, as parents, we have the responsibility to control the internet usage of our children and stop them from getting addicted. Some of the steps which can be adopted by parents to help out their children from getting addicted are as follows:
- Many children use internet as an alternative to remove their boredom or loneliness. Hence as parents, we can spend more time with our kids or search for some constructive activities which might entertain them like painting, dancing, playing musical instruments, playing with pets, etc.
- Parents have to move a step ahead and block the unwanted sites so that their child never gets an access to unwanted content and hate sites. This can be done with the help of content filtering software. This software not only restricts the content accessed by the users but also block the access to web at specific chosen hours.
- Parents need to take active interest in learning both technical and popular terms related to internet so that they can monitor their child.
- Parents can set up time limits for internet usage. In fact, they can even sit along with them some time and enjoy their kids exploring new facts on the internet. Current generation kids are abreast with the latest knowledge about technological developments. So, we parents can learn from our kids. Bet it! This would be a source of encouragement for our kids.
- Parents need to communicate about both positives and negatives of internet.
- Parents can request the school authorities to educate the students on cyber ethics and the law.
- Last but not least, parents should act as good role models for their kids. So parents should check themselves from becoming an internet addict.
Other child-related articles by Anna Purna
- Childhood Obesity and Academic Performance
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- Teaching honesty to children of primary school
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- How honesty helps in building child's character
Honesty is one of the vital virtues involved in the framing of a child’s character and personality. Hence, parents should try all possible ways to practice and inculcate honesty in their children.
- Long-term effects of being bullied in school
Bullying is a common problem faced by a lot of students. Previously, authorities ignored the problem leaving it as a part of growing up. However, current research shows the adverse long term effects.