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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

Imparts Knowledge

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.

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.

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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Parents need to take active interest in learning both technical and popular terms related to internet so that they can monitor their child.
  4. 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.
  5. Parents need to communicate about both positives and negatives of internet.
  6. Parents can request the school authorities to educate the students on cyber ethics and the law.
  7. Last but not least, parents should act as good role models for their kids. So parents should check themselves from becoming an internet addict.


jarred evans on June 29, 2014:

I am choosing the preschool age group 3-5 years. At this age their motor skills and cognitive abilities start to kick in. They start learning the alphabet, numbers, and how to use and hold a pencil. The first benefit for preschoolers using the internet is it promotes the cognitive development. The amount of information they’re exposed to strengthens the cognitive abilities such as memory, logical problem solving, and critical thinking. Another benefit is the internet helps improves the eye-hand coordination. Regular use of the keyboard or mouse improves motor skills. On a iPad the preschooler can swipe and be able to draw numbers and letters with their fingers, it makes it more fun and entertaining for them so it makes them want to do it more often. Although these benefits are great for learning, too much exposure to the internet could have them be exposed to the wrong sites. Children open these sites by mistake. Children do not have not right maturity to understand these sites. Their interaction with peer group and social activities get negatively impacted. Study shows that 80 percent of children under the age of 5 use the internet weekly. Too much internet can cause a lack of physical activity decelerates their physical development. There has to be equality between the use of internet and being off the internet.

purnasrinivas (author) from Bangalore on September 24, 2013:

Thank you AnnaCia for your nice comments.

AnnaCia on September 24, 2013:

Very interesting hub, and an important one, indeed. Thank you for the information.

purnasrinivas (author) from Bangalore on September 09, 2013:

Thank you DDE for going through my hubs. Any feedback on making this hub more informative would be very helpful. Your experiences also could help.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on September 09, 2013:

The use of the Internet for children has been an issue ever since but with your helpful hub certainly parents would get it right. A useful and interesting hub.

purnasrinivas (author) from Bangalore on September 08, 2013:

Thank you Dr Pran for the additional information.

Dr Pran Rangan from Kanpur (UP), India on September 08, 2013:

Good hub. Need of the hour. It has been proven that the continuous use of internet for more than four hours at a stretch can result in obesity due to physical inactivity accompanied by mindless eating. So, small breaks should be taken by the users so as to move around a bit. The continuous use can also cause eye-strain and so one should focus the vision at a distance periodically in order to avoid the eye-strain. But improved versions of screens don't cause eye-strain.

I agree with threenorns that internet use doesn't cause ADHD which has a genetic factor for its cause. Children suffering from ADHD have learning problems due to attention deficit because of hyperactivity. But, at the same time, it has been found that internet can cause addiction in children as well as adults.

We all will have to maintain a healthy balance in internet use and other activities of daily life. If used properly, it is a wonderful invention of modern science.

purnasrinivas (author) from Bangalore on September 06, 2013:

Thank you Threenorns, for your insightful comments. I cannot deny any of it. On obesity, children also become obese by aping parental habits. Also, too much of anything is harmful and so is the internet. Today, when we are more getting into less and less of physical activity, there is a possibility that we are degrading our DNA (read my hub - "Did you know that exercise can bring positive changes to your DNA?" ) and rushing towards our own extinction. This hub was essentially to moderate what is a rapidly spreading epidemic. Thank You and keep the thoughtful discussion alive.

threenorns on September 06, 2013:

this article is hashing together two different issues.

first off, children don't become obese because they are inactive - they really don't. they become inactive because they are obese - the problem starts with the food they're eating. children forced to "finish off your plate or you don't get dessert", especially when the food was served to them instead of allowing them to serve themselves, packs the weight on them and then they get too tired just hauling the bulk around to even think about things like soccer and street hockey and ballet.

yes, humans are social - but there are humans who are not. i'm one of them. i am far more social online than i am off - i go *nowhere* in real life. and it's not the internet that did it: before there was the internet, i just stayed home and read books or watched TV or both at the same time. if you're no good at real-time interaction, at least you can have SOME interaction in space-time.

i'm also not sure i agree with the "internet causes ADHD" or "computers cause learning disorders" theories that are floating around. yes, two of my three kids are internet addicts, as am i. but i'm pretty sure that the internet addiction is because of the asperger's, not that the autism is because of the internet. if we didn't go online at all, we'd be addicted to something else in its place.

basically, if your child WAS physically active (always outside playing, had lots of friends) but now does nothing but stare at the screen and nobody ever calls him any more, that's when you want to start asking questions. kids don't change state like that without a darned good reason. but if your child has always been quiet and studious, then spending hours on the computer is probably just natural for her.

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