Skip to Content
 
 
 
Find:
Advanced Search

Effects of Internet Usage

Bachman, S. (1997). Effects of internet usage. S. Hamilton, MA: Center for Youth Studies.

OVERVIEW

The research firm, IntelliQuest, recently revealed that one in four Americans (age 16 or older) has been online. Seven million of these log on from school. In Steven Isaac’s article, "The Internet," research also shows us that "nearly 19 million minors in this country have access to home computers (Forrester research). Teens spend an average of 8.5 hours per week chatting and sending email on the Internet." Internet usage and technology are growing so rapidly that these figures are outdated as soon as they are gathered.

Because there is no escaping the Internet’s influence on our lives, we need to prepare ourselves. Although technology advances countless helpful products and services, it also enables numerous negative, harmful habits and practices. People who work with today’s youth need to be aware of these potentially damaging agents in order to help teenagers refrain from the negative temptations of the Internet. In perusing recent newspaper and magazine articles, there are volumes of articles illustrating the negative effects that the Internet can have on teenagers. Dangers on the Internet include plagarism; teens running away to meet Internet lovers, sometimes getting raped and even killed; Internet addiction; pornography access; crimes, such as fraud; recruitment to cults; and rumor milling.

After reading articles such as this, one may fear the Internet. Although this is an understandable reaction, with restriction and under supervision, the Internet is an invaluable tool. The Internet educates young people in so many new ways. It is the goal of the U.S. President to have every classroom in America connected to the Internet by the year 2000. Plenty of books currently offer parents guidance on how to regulate Internet usage and provide suggestions on how families can learn from the Internet together. The Internet is not inherently evil. When one fully understands Internet usage, it can be a fun and useful tool in youth work.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION AND DISCUSSION

  1. What are some other negative and positive effects of Internet usage?
  2. What limits should parents place on their kids who use the Internet?
  3. Would it be healthy for a parent and teen to "surf the Net" and discover the porn sites together, in a controlled atmosphere? How might one discuss this with a teenager after this search?
  4. Is it acceptable to participate in an activity that is viewed by some as evil and offers such negative temptations?
  5. What activities could be planned for a teenager to challenge them in their faith while they are "surfing the Net?"

IMPLICATIONS

  • Teenagers, parents, youth leaders, and teachers need to be aware of the harmful things that kids can find on the Internet. Increased awareness will facilitate greater supervision of teens while they are on the Internet.
  • Parents who allow their children to freely roam the Internet risk allowing them free access to pornography; chats with cyberlovers, pedophiles, potential rapists, and cult members; and possible addiction to the Internet.
  • The Internet should not be seen as purely evil, but rather as a tool that, when controlled, can offer myriad educational and enriching activities.
  • Parents are vital in creating a helpful or harmful Internet experience.

Sherry Bachman cCYS