In the past twenty years, internet usage has increased rapidly amongst children. More than two-thirds of eight-year old’s go online every day, according to study by the nonprofit Joan Ganz Cooney Center. Because of this, I’d like to talk about the influence of the internet on children, the advantages, disadvantages, how to keep your children protected, and how to reduce the amount of internet they use daily.
Firstly, let’s talk about the positive things on the internet for children. Let’s start with the things kids love the most, games. Games can enhance a child’s ability to work as a team because in many games you need more than one player, so if the child wants to win, they’d have to learn to work as a team. Creativity is also something else that kids attain from games. There are so many – tailoring, cooking, and coloring games out there. A person could find their inner fashion designer and design so any amazing clothing, or their inner chef and make delicious new foods. Even their inner artist ends up making a masterpiece that may go up on the walls of a famous art museum where everyone could see their fantastic artwork. The games the children play could be the reason they got that first spark of a great idea that could build a great future for them.
Not only are games exciting and fun but they could also help kids become smarter. There are many fun educational games in this world. Children won’t even know that they are learning from these games, all they would do is play and have fun while not noticing that they are getting smarter the more they play. Children can gain a lot of knowledge on the internet. Studies show that children with a computer at home do better academically than those without. You might think that children with devices or the internet at home might get distracted easier than those that don’t have it. Well, this could be true for a lot of children, but while they’re on the internet there are so many websites and videos that could help the kids with the homework assignment, they didn’t understand so well.
The internet not only helps us with homework and studies, but it also helps us with many everyday life challenges, for example: how to take care of a pet, how to cook, how to play a sport, and how to do so many other things. There are so many good things about the internet. For example, communication with family and friends is way easier. You could also contact emergency services in case of an emergency. Not only could you communicate, but you could also find many different forms of entertainment from videos to games, and so much more. Another thing you could do is shop online. While shopping online you could look at reviews, customer feedback, or even ratings to know whether the product you are purchasing is truly what the description says or picture shows. Upon searching the internet you might see advertisements that could lead you or anyone else into making a healthy life decision, and making a healthy life decision is especially important for children so that they could grow up to live a long healthy life as adults, and do their part in this world by helping people in need so that they too could do the same for someone else.
The second thing I’ll be talking about in this essay is the negative influence of the internet on children. An inactive lifestyle associated with computer usage can be a prime risk factor for obesity, according to clinical psychologist Kaleyvani Geeseeny Sawmy, the author of “The Impact of the Internet on Children/Adolescents.” This means that the more children stay on the internet they tend to move or do physical activity less; That can lead to gaining weight, which can cause diabetes or heart diseases. Too much internet usage not only leads to obesity but is also linked to both repetitive motion and eye strain, which will weaken the child’s eyesight leading to wearing glasses at an early age. The rapid flashing images could lead to epileptic seizures, according to the author of “The Impact of Home Computer Use on Children’s Activities and Development,” published by Princeton University.
Increased use of the internet amongst children can lead to the feeling of loneliness and depression, warns Geeseeny Sawmy. These feelings can cause a child to spend less time with their loved ones. Multitasking that children do while online could make it hard to concentrate on a single task for a long period of time. Children could get distracted by so many things when they’re online, advertisements are one of the main distractions on the internet. With advertisements and all those distractions, kids would soon not be able to tell the difference between fact and fiction, the internet could brainwash kids and make them start to believe in something that isn’t true.
Not only do advertisements brainwash kids, but it also makes them make unhealthy food choices. For example, wherever you go online, do you see Mcdonalds, KFC, and so many more fast-food restaurants advertisements, and doesn’t it make you want to eat only fast food instead of vegetables and fruits. Well, that is exactly what happens with most children, the advertisements are put in such a way that the child wouldn’t want to eat anything else but what they see on the advertisement; This is one of the reasons that lead to obesity and so many other health problems.
Children are vulnerable to so many different things while online. They are vulnerable to cyber-bullying, sharing too much of their life could cause them to be constantly recorded and watched. There is a lack of privacy as well. Since nothing is filtered on the internet kids get exposed to so many bad things. Desensitization to violent stimuli is one potential consequence of excessive internet usage in children, warns the city of Manchester Health Department. That means violent images can alter a child’s developing perspective on the world, and there is so much foul language out there on the internet. Violence in games is one of the main disadvantages of the internet. 3 or 4 years ago an online game called ‘Blue Whale’ killed thousands of children around the world. This game makes kids committee suicide through many different stages, first, it started lightly like just a fun friendly game, but then it got deadlier and deadlier until the child is instructed to commit suicide or else there would be consequences. So many children used to play this game thinking it was just a friendly game not knowing they would later be trapped in that horrible game of violence and death.
Now that you have a better understanding of the good and bad of the internet, I’m going to tell you how to keep yourself and your kids protected. Firstly, you must think hard before posting anything, because nothing really gets deleted on the internet, everything stays forever. Don’t post personal things, for example, home address, location, etc. Have safety apps that keep your social media accounts safe (antivirus and antispyware software), turn on firewalls, a part of your computer system or network that blocks unauthorized access while permitting outward communication. You must always keep an eye out for:
1- Hackers: They try to gain access to restricted internet material.
2- Identity thieves: They gather a lot of information on a person, then they use that information to act as if they were the person.
3- Internet predators: Criminals who seek to engage in sexual relationships.
4- Cyberbullies: Bullies that bully, especially children, on the internet.
Keeping an eye out for these kinds of people is what will keep you and your children safe on the internet.
Reducing the amount of internet your child uses is a great way to keep them safe, I’ll be telling you ways you help your children reduce the excess amount of time they use on the internet. First and foremost, you as a parent should be a good role model to your children, don’t use too much internet if not your kids will do the same; Educate yourself on electronics, you can’t teach your kids the dangers unless you understand them yourself. Create tech-free zones, for example, the dining room, where you could all eat and talk with each other.
Set times not to use devices, you could have a family game night every weekend, also set regular times every day for doing homework or practicing a skill, so that you could encourage the habit. Set parental control to monitor what your kids are doing; you could put a kids mode on apps so that your children only see child-appropriate things. Educate your kids on the dangers of the internet, because children who understand it’s not healthy to watch too much TV are less likely to watch too much TV. Encourage other activities, like sports, music, reading, etc, and provide games that need physical involvement, like ‘Wii’ or ‘Just dance.’
In conclusion, I have listed out the advantages, disadvantages, how to keep your children protected, and how to help them withdraw from excess usage of the internet. It is important that all parents must attend to the dangers of the internet to keep their children safe, but also to take advantage of the benefits so that your children will be educated while still enjoying their youth.