The internet has become part of our lives. An estimated 90% of American teenagers use the net. Most of these kids visit websites to get information for their homework. Some others post their profiles on MySpace, visit chatrooms and send e-mails. The growing presence of the internet in the lives of children has led psychiatrists and scientists to consider the effect it is having on them. A prime concern of parents is that the internet affects the social skills of the children. Now there are two ways of looking at this.
The internets critics would say that children tend to spend less time in social activities or communicating with family and friends. They are inclined to withdraw into themselves. On the other hand, the internet enables them to make new friends who are situated in distant places, and remain in touch with old friends. It encourages shy people to come out of their shell. This would also indirectly equip them to appreciate people around them. Research on these two paradoxical views has shown that the internet did not undermine social and communication skills development.
Young people are able to find out more about issues and things that they find too embarrassing to ask their teacher or parents. Many teenagers would rather search the internet for information on sex and sexually transmitted diseases and other health matters. Regarding the internet’s effects on the children’s psychological development, again various scientific studies have found that depression or low esteem in children cannot be linked to greater internet use. Children using internet regularly were found to have good visual and spatial skills.
They had better reading abilities than other children did, but their mathematical abilities did not show any gains. On the other side, the internet allows them to access information privately. Some of these may be good while others may not be healthy for them . Pornographic videos and movies are readily available online to children. They are not mentally prepared to deal with what they see or know. In 2000, the Children’s Internet Protection Act required that all schools and libraries in the U.
S block offensive and obscene websites. Posting their profiles can help children meet and be influenced by complete strangers, which is potentially harmful. In a way, the internet is addictive with the user becoming self-engrossed, unconcerned about society at large and unable or reluctant to understand the viewpoints As most technologies are, the internet too is both a blessing and bane. We must guide our children to recognize goodness and evil. Its no use blaming the technology when the source of the evil is within us.