Youngsters today seem to be wired at birth when it comes to navigating their way on the Internet. Children as small as four years are able to handle the actually complex movements of a mouse and cursor and play computer games, which frankly you and I will take a while figuring out. Now of course the Internet has several advantages that youngsters can avail of, instant communication, assistance for their homework, detailed information on huge range of topics and more. But the question that always haunts parents is how much time is alright on the Internet and how do we control what youngsters are exposed to online.
All parents have gone through the adolescent phase and know how addictive things can be. It may have been punk hairstyles, Michael Jackson and the telephone, but for adolescents today, all of this and more is easily accessible via the Internet. Studies have naturally been conducted world over on the increased computer use by adolescents and the growing area of concern it is for parents. While there is a lot of information in these studies that we as parents are already aware of, there is a significant lot that we should know.
Research by experts at Queen’s university has recently established a strong link between extended computer time and the potential dangers of multiple-risk behaviors (MRB). This basically refers to the abuse of drugs, excessive alcohol as well as promiscuity. There are several social theories in psychology that tell you how certain behaviors when indulged in can lead to an area of the brain being triggered to feel elated. Such feelings lead to a repetition of the behavior. Youngsters are often in front of a computer monitor for around 5 hours a day and this makes them all the more susceptible to risky behavior. The more exposed to them these youngsters are, the more the chances of them indulging in them. One undeniable proof of the matter is the significant amount of advertising that has moved from television screens to the Internet. This, coupled with the increase in the amount of Internet time youngsters have allows them to be vulnerable if they are not careful.
When it comes to technology like the TV as well as video games, there is a certain level of checks that parents can keep on their children. TVs have child control locks and video games are clearly age based. Though there are devices that can control the amount of Internet and prevent entry into some sites, it is not completely foolproof. Youngsters today are extremely technology savvy and constantly find ways in which to overcome the barriers they are faced with. Therefore it is not really possible to be able to control all the content that youngsters view. Of course many parents have ensured that they children have access to the net only in a common room, such as the living or stud room. This ensures that children don’t stray into something they are not supposed to.
Now that studies have established how excessive Internet is harming the mindsets of adolescents, several researches are now moving into the type of content that is being viewed. Based on this, the hope is to be able to understand what sites or content have to be steered clear off. Youngsters don’t take to well to preaching but rather need to be made to understand why certain sites are off limits. Perhaps using an example from real life, explain to them the presence of online predators and how harmful an association that can be. Try to find sites of their interest and guide them to it. It may comfort them, knowing that their parents too are computer savvy and are enjoying the latest in thing.
Janet M. Frank blogs for the Social work courses online blog. Her blog she uses to share experiences in social sciences to help people find a social work career. She has a lot of years of social working study and worked for U.S. Universities that offer social work degrees.