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).
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).
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.
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