Internet For Kids: Safe Or Dangerous?

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February 18, 2009

The Internet is one of the most popular inventions in our history. Millions of people from all over the world use it on a regular basis to communicate, get and send information and play games. When people are on the internet, they can receive images, text, sound and even video through their computer. However, using internet can have a different impact and effect on kids at different ages and stages of their development. According to scientists who had conducted several studies on this issue, internet can have both positive and negative effects on young people.

Today the internet has become a part of children's natural environment. Most of them have access to the Internet at school and at home, using it for playing games, writing e-mails, web-browsing, downloading, sharing files, chatting and text messaging. Both parents and teachers consider internet to be an educational tool, thinking that it assists kids with the learning process.

As to positive effects of the virtual reality, considering it as a part of our world, it is good for children to know how to use a computer and internet. They can use it for searching useful articles and material for the school. Also they can do their homework on computer instead of spending time writing down.

Web-browsing gives children possibilities to learn about new things in life, such as other countries and cultures, find out about their habits, language and discover how people live all over the globe. Children can also communicate with their friends and relatives even when they are thousands of miles away. In addition, they can make friends in foreign countries, and even can talk to each other using the advantages of a web cam. There are millions of perfectly safe sites for kids on the net to find useful information, fun computer games and entertainment, but children can also be exposed to different traps and dangers.

The internet is an environment for adult auditory, where there is almost no regulation or control on what can be placed on it. Some websites appear to be quite harmless and amusing. However, there is a lot of information and content that can be hazardous to children and damaging for their development.

Most parents do not realize that there might be dangers involved when their children go online. When children surf the web, they can easily be tempted into something not proper and even get harassed. When kids start communicating with strangers online, they do not know or understand that they could actually be talking to a sick or a harmful person. Consequently, kids might be talked into meeting with this or that person they enjoyed communicating online. There have been several actual cases that received national attention about young people meeting someone from the internet and then, being harmed or abducted.

Another thing is that many children use internet only for playing games, and not for learning purposes. They sit before the screen for hours, which in turn can lead to headaches, backaches or vision problems. Too much sitting by the computer can be unhealthy and result as well in repetitive stress injuries, obesity and social isolation.

What is even more, some web sites are not suitable for children, for example pornographic sites, sites promoting violence, sects and so on. Research has shown that violence in most forms of screen media such as films, videos, TV, computer games and the Internet can have a very negative effect on children, particularly young ones.

In general boys and girls are involved in the Internet to the same extent. Writing e-mails, searching, and instant messaging are the top three activities for both girls and boys. Both genders take part in chat rooms, and view personal home pages. However, girls are more likely to use Internet for education purposes, schoolwork, music and shopping. And what boys are more interested in is technology, entertainment and games. Overall, there is no statistical difference in the proportion of girls and boys who use the Internet.

Like with other areas of their children's lives, parents have a big responsibility to guide and guard them and to set clear boundaries to what kids do. Parents need to understand the impact of the technology and know all the time as to what exactly their children access on the web. Parents should always talk to their children about what is online and what might happen online. Parents can make a big difference in reducing the risks for their kids by setting sensible rules and knowing what are the interests of their children. The time that the youngsters spend in front of TV and computers needs to be kept in balance with time in the real world with real people.




Tags: Parenting and Families

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