The side effects of constant media exposure in children continues to be a growing public health concern. In the past 20 years, Internet usage among children has steadily increased. More than two-thirds of 8-year-old children go online each day, according to a study by the nonprofit Joan Ganz Cooney Center. The relationships between Internet use and physical or social aftereffects are complicated, but some facts are starting to reveal themselves.Socially, Internet use is a double-edged sword for children. On one hand, the technology facilitates communication with friends and family in faraway places and regular contact with peers in the same area. On the other, time spent on the Internet is time not spent physically interacting with elders and peers. While Internet use can build written and multimedia communication and interpretation skills, children also risk not developing physical communication skills, such as the capacity to express physical affection or the emotional intelligence necessary to interpret gestures and facial expressions.

The psychological impacts of Internet use among children are perhaps the most debated. Some studies suggest an increase in loneliness and feelings of isolation, particularly among preteens and teenagers beginning to establish lasting social relationships, yet follow-up studies have also found that these impacts decrease over time as Internet users learn to use the technology more effectively. In very extreme cases of overuse, Internet addiction can even become a psychological disorder in children, usually coupled with behaviors like neglecting social ties and being dishonest about time spent or activities conducted on the Internet.

Online games and activities can enhance teamwork and creativity. The Internet’s wealth of information can add to the child’s store of knowledge, provided that the child has learned to discriminate between good and bad information sources. Many studies have demonstrated that children in households with computers perform better academically than peers who do not have ready access to computers. Interacting with computers has been shown to improve both visual intelligence and hand-eye coordination.

The psychological impacts of Internet use among children are perhaps the most debated. Some studies suggest an increase in loneliness and feelings of isolation, particularly among preteens and teenagers beginning to establish lasting social relationships, yet follow-up studies have also found that these impacts decrease over time as Internet users learn to use the technology more effectively. In very extreme cases of overuse, Internet addiction can even become a psychological disorder in children, usually coupled with behaviors like neglecting social ties and being dishonest about time spent or activities conducted on the Internet.

 

by: Ammara Siddique