Are Children Smarter Because of the Internet?

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The advent of the Internet has brought numerous challenges. The Internet can be regarded as an essential element in all virtual aspects of life and children are not left out (Cho and Cheon, 2005; Jackson, Von Eye, Fitzgerald, Witt, and Zhao, 2011). Modern children and the adolescents represent the first generation that has grown surrounded by the Internet technology. This can be compared to the children of the 1920s and 1950s who grew up surrounded by the buzz of the radio and television respectively (Bremer, 2005).

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According to a study conducted by Genevieve Marie Johnson (2010), it was found out that children were likely to use Internet more at school than at home. However, they enjoyed using the Internet at home more than at school (Johnson, 2010; Jackson, et al. 2007). Children perceive the use of Internet in a different perspective compared to adults (Sandvig, 2006). There is no doubt that the Internet has a significant influence on children (Boonaert and Vettenburg, 2011). This paper will aspire to explore the question on whether children are smarter or more socialized due to the Internet.

The Internet is used both at school and at home by children. At school, the children’s Internet use is governed by the children’s Internet Protection Act (Yan, 2006). The children’s use of Internet is associated with various risks despite being beneficial is some ways. Parents and guardians need to implement various strategies that favor co-use and interaction rules to children to reduce the risk associated with Internet use among children. However, these strategies were found to be less effective in limiting the risks (Livingstone and Helsper, 2008).

In a study conducted regarding the influence of the Internet on children from low income families, it was indicated that children who had access to the Internet recorded high scores compared to those who had limited access to the Internet. It was also found out that age did not have an impact on the performance of the children (Jackson, et al. 2006).

Another study conducted on the influence of Internet use by the children on family relationships and parental mediation established that parental recommendations on useful websites and co-using were positively associated with the frequency with children would engage in educative, online activities. Nevertheless, it was found that parental restrictions on time and websites did not impact on the actual Internet use by children (Lee and Chae, 2007). Children are difficult to tame when it comes to unsafe Internet use. It has been established that unsafe Internet use among children is likely to occur within the homes (Valcke, Schellens, Van Keer and Gerarts, 2007).

With the Internet, it is possible to form virtual relationships among various people. In a study that was conducted by Bonetti, Campbell and Gilmore (2010), it was revealed that children who were lonely engaged more in online communications than those who did not report being lonely. Through the Internet, such children are able to fulfill special needs in respect to social interactions, self exposure, and exploring their identity (Valkenburg and Soeters, 2001). In a study conducted among the Latino children in Los Angeles, it was observed that strict parental strategies limited children in respect to Internet use. Nevertheless, these children were able to pursue their own interests and motivations online though on a restricted level (Tripp, 2010).

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The Internet has had far-reaching impacts on the society in general and children have not been spared. From the studies that have been conducted, it can be observed that though parents have been restrictive in allowing access of their children to the Internet, this has come with various challenges. The children have always had a way to access Internet and parents have been left with very little in controlling what the children access.

References:

Bonetti, L., Campbell, M. A., and Gilmore, L. (2010). The Relationship of loneliness and social anxiety with children’s and adolescents’ online communication. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 13(3): 279-285.

Boonaert, T., and Vettenburg, N. (2011). Young people’s internet use: Divided or diversified? Childhood, 18(1): 54–66.

Bremer, J. (2005). The Internet and Children: Advantages and Disadvantages. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 14: 405-428.

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Cho, C., and Cheon, H. J. (2005). Children’s Exposure to Negative Internet Content: Effects of Family Context. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 49(4): 488–509.

Jackson, L. A. et al. (2006). Does Home Internet Use Influence the Academic Performance of Low-Income Children? Developmental Psychology, 42(3): 429–435.

Jackson, L. A. et al. (2007). What Children Do on the Internet: Domains Visited and Their Relationship to Socio-Demographic Characteristics and Academic Performance. Cyber psychology & Behavior, 10(2): 182-190.

Jackson, L. A., Von Eye, A., Fitzgerald, H. E., Witt, A. E., and Zhao, Y. (2011). Internet use, videogame playing and cell phone use as predictors of children’s body mass index (BMI), body weight, academic performance, and social and overall self-esteem. Computers in Human Behavior, 27: 599-604.

Johnson, G. M. (2010). Young children’s Internet use at home and school: Patterns and profiles. Journal of Early Childhood Research, 8(3): 282-293.

Lee, S., and Chae, Y. (2007). Children’s Internet Use in a Family Context: Influence on Family Relationships and Parental Mediation. Cyber psychology & Behavior, 10(5): 640-644.

Livingstone, S., and Helsper, E. J. (2008). Parental Mediation of Children’s Internet Use. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 52(4): 581–599.

Sandvig, C. (2006). The Internet at Play: Child Users of Public Internet Connections. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 11: 932–956

Tripp, L. M. (2010). The computer is not for you to be looking around, it is for schoolwork’: Challenges for digital inclusion as Latino immigrant families negotiate children’s access to the internet. New media & Society, 13(4): 552-567.

Valcke, M., Schellens, T., Van Keer, H., and Gerarts, M. (2007). Primary school children’s safe use of the Internet at home and at school: An exploratory study. Computers in Human Behavior, 23: 2838-2850.

Valkenburg, P. M., and Soeters, K. E. (2001). Children’s positive and negative experiences with the Internet: an exploratory survey. Communication Research, 28: 652–675.

Yan, Z. (2006). What Influences Children’s and Adolescents’ Understanding of the Complexity of the Internet? Developmental Psychology, 42(3): 418-428.

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