The Internet and Its Impacts on the Youth’s Lives Essay
The Internet has emerged as the greatest breakthrough in information technology.
Its borderless connection among people and organizations all over the world makes it unarguably indispensable in the modern world. The youth are the most remarkable beneficiaries of the Internet because they were born in the technology-based world and have continuously learned to adapt their everyday lives to it; however, they are strongly influenced by the online environment as their lives are getting more and more dependent on the Internet.Although the Internet is regarded as an essential and efficient medium of communication and socialization, excessive Internet use adversely affects young adults’ social and personal lives. After graduating from high schools, most of young people have more freedom not only in their real life but also in their virtual life on the Internet. Contrary to the benefits of useful information via the World Wide Web, young adults may expose themselves to harmful content that affects their shaping of personality and their perception of the world.This problem was revealed in the report Harmful Content on the Internet and in Video Games by the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, which was appointed by the House of Commons in London: Anyone who regularly watches television or reads the press is likely to have become aware of growing public concern in recent months at the Internet’s dark side: the easy availability of hardcore pornography, which people may find offensive, the uploading by ordinary people of film of real fights, bullying or alleged rape, or the setting up of websites encouraging others to follow extreme diets, or self-harm, or even commit suicide. 7) Besides content that exhibits extreme pornography or violence, the Internet also threatens young adults with drug-related activities, as the Information Bulletin published by National Drug Intelligence Center has pointed to this danger: Drug-related activity is widespread on the Internet, and even the novice user has easy access to all the information needed to produce, cultivate, purchase, sell, or use any illegal drug, even relatively obscure ones.
Many of the users participating in these drug-related activities are adolescents and young adults. Individuals who use illegal drugs or are contemplating their use can readily access information about them on Internet sites, including explanations of drug terminology and methods of use. Many of these sites popularize and glamorize drug use, and others implicitly promote use and experimentation. Drug distributors and customers utilize Internet sites to post and discuss drug prices.They also use Internet bulletin boards and chat rooms to arrange the sale of drugs or chemicals, which are then shipped to the customer for an agreed price.
(1) Furthermore, in the early stages of their adult lives, the young are no longer closely monitored by adults when sitting in front of the computers. Since neither the amounts of time they go online nor the websites they want to visit are limited, those young adults are more likely to become Internet addicted.A study published by the American Psychological Association acknowledges, “It has also been suggested that some adolescents become so involved with certain applications of the Internet that they are no longer capable of controlling their online activity, implying that these youngsters have developed symptoms of compulsive Internet use “, and this alarming condition leads to “potential harmful effects on the psychosocial well-being of youngsters … such as, for instance, loss of control, withdrawal symptoms, preoccupation, intra- and interpersonal conflict, and coping” (Engels et al. 55). As their lives are becoming more and more lacking in face-to-face communication and real social interaction, many heavy users of the Internet have problems with communicating with their family and friends, as well as self-expressing themselves in person.A study from Southern Illinois University has pointed out, “Internet use is associated with decreased desire for face-to-face communication, even with family members and close friends, Internet users may be losing some of the most important aspects of their life: family relationships and friendships”, and “The Internet could be destroying the basic fabric of human society, or family and community relationships. Some studies showed that such a concern is not unfounded” (Shim 1-2).
In the past, people used to think of the Internet as an alternative way to communicate with one another when they did not have a chance to meet up, but nowadays young adults often prefer talking to their friends and acquaintances online. According to CyberAtlas (2002), “56% of youths aged 18-19 polled preferred online communication to phone conversations” (qtd. in Shim 2). Many of the young today spend more time on their social networking websites and instant message applications than talking to their loved ones in real life.
This fact creates a growing concern about family relationships under the influence of Internet excessive usage because “empirical evidence shows that the quality of communication between children and parents significantly affects family relationships” (Shim 2). Another aspect that young internet users should concern about is anti-social behaviors and feelings, which is resulted from the excessive amount of time they spend on the Internet.Study has showed that compulsive Internet usage may reduce social participation and the psychosocial well-being of adolescents (Engels et al.
656). As a result, “People who used the Internet more reported experiencing a greater number of daily life stressors in a subsequent period, an increase that is marginally significant” (Kraut et al. 1027), and those people with intensity of Internet use are more likely to suffer from psychological symptoms of loneliness, depression, and life satisfaction (Engels et al. 56). There are two plausible explanations for this phenomenon. The first one is Displacing Social Activity, which reasons that “the time that people devote to using the Internet might substitute for time that they had previously spent engaged in social activities”; therefore, “Use of the Internet, like watching TV, may represent a privatization of entertainment, which could lead to social withdrawal and to declines in psychological well-being”.
The second reason is Displacing Strong Ties, which shows that “The paradox we observe, then, is that the Internet is a social technology used for communication with individuals and groups but is associated with declines in social involvement and the psychological well-being that goes with social involvement” because “by using the Internet, people are substituting poorer quality social relationships for better relationships, that is, substituting weak ties for strong ones”. For example, “On-line friendships are likely to be more limited than friendships supported by physical proximity.On-line friends are less likely than friends developed at school, work, church, or in the neighborhood to be available for help with tangible favors, such as offering small loans, rides, or baby-sitting” (Kraut et al. 1029).
Despite of being an ideal place for making new friends and socializing with other people, the social networking environment on the Internet poses a threat of cyber-bullying and online harassment. The definition of Cyber-bullying refers to the fact that “Email, texting, chat rooms, mobile phones, mobile phone cameras and web sites can and are being used by young people to bully peers” (Campbell 68).This problem has been globally reported with growing concern about its impact on the youth’s social and emotional development, as confirmed in a report, “Different studies (based on different age groups) have yielded different figures for the proportion of children and young people who had been bullied by text, Internet or e-mail, but there is consistent evidence that between 10% and 20% of children have been cyberbullied, 62 with girls more likely than boys to have suffered” (“Harmful Content” 18).According to an article by Professor Marilyn Campbell from Queensland University of Technology, some of the most common methods of cyber-bullying include “texting derogatory messages on mobile phones, with students showing the message to others before sending it to the target”; “sending threatening emails, and forwarding a confidential email to all address book contacts, thus publicly humiliating the first sender”; “ganging up on one student and bombarding him/her with ‘flame’ emails”; “setting up a derogatory web site dedicated to a targeted student and emailing others the address, inviting their comments, [or creating] web sites … for others to vote on the biggest geek, or sluttiest girl in the school” (69). Although the issue “has as yet not received the attention it deserves and remains virtually absent from the research literature”, victims of this new bullying form suffer from considerable consequences, as pointed out in the article, “verbal and psychological bullying may have more negative long term effects… In addition, in cyber bullying there is a potential for a much wider audience to be aware of the incident than in schoolyard bullying”. Moreover, “the cyber bully can sometimes be anonymous, meaning that some students could be emboldened to cyber bully when they would not bully face-to-face” (Campbell 71).Studies have shown that excessive use of the Internet causes negative consequences to students’ academic performance.
In his book about the young American who were born in the “digital age” of “the Internet, e-mail, blogs interactive and ultrarealistic video games”, Mark Bauerlein concludes: Instead of opening young American minds to the stores of civilization and science and politics, technology has contracted their horizon to themselves, to the social scene around them … Teens images and songs, hot gossip and games, and youth-to-youth communications no longer limited by time or space wrap them up in a generational cocoon reaching all the way into their bedrooms …The fonts of knowledge are everywhere, but the rising generation s camped in the desert, passing stories, pictures, tunes, and text back and forth, living off the thrill of peer attention. Meanwhile, their intellects refuse the cultural and civic inheritance that has made us what we are up to now. (10) In his study of the Internet and its effects on scholastic performance, Scherer asserted “excessive Internet use is problematic when it results in impaired functioning such as compromised grades or failure to fulfill responsibilities” (qtd. in Kubey, Lavin, and Barrows 368). Another study has shown that “ Internet use [of Internet-dependent students] had kept them up late at night, that they sometimes felt tired the next day, and that they missed class due to Internet use” (Kubey, Lavin, and Barrows 368).
Moreover, the study has also stated that the Internet has been reported as the “causative factor” that makes many students feel lonely, stressed and overwhelmed, and it is mainly because of the late night hours they spend on the Internet “when the rest of the social world is otherwise unavailable” (Kubey, Lavin, and Barrows 379). All of these factors lead to the conclusion that “the Internet does play a role in some students’ academic difficulties. Thus, … [it is wise] that academic administrators, faculty, staff, and collegiate health workers become increasingly aware of what appears to be a relatively small but growing problem on campus, particularly with undergraduate populations (Kubey, Lavin, and Barrows 380).In short, excessive usage of the Internet has been shown to have many unintended consequences for young adults, including uncontrolled exposure to harmful content, lack of family and social interaction, psychological disorder symptoms and social isolation, cyber-bullying, and decline in scholastic performance. Whether the Internet is the main and direct factor of these issues remains to be seen; however, moderate Internet usage is always highly advised in order to maintain a mentally and physically balanced, healthy lifestyle.
Works CitedBauerlein, Mark. The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (or, Don’t Trust Anyone under 30). New York, NY: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, 2008. Print.
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Harmful Content on the Internet and in Video Games. Publication no. HC 353-I. Vol. I. London: House of Commons – Culture, Media and Sport Committee, 2008. Print. Kraut, Robert, Michael Patterson, Vicki Lundmark, Sara Kiesler, Tridas Mukophadhyay, and William Scherlis.
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