Influence of the Internet on Teenagers
Every person goes through the period of being a teenager which is 13-18 years. This period is often characterized by unstable emotional state and even psychological stresses. During this period young people are shifting from being a child to being an adult person. In addition, a lot of young people try to establish their roles in the society, to understand their feelings and attitudes. This investigation might be accompanied by the feelings of fear, nervousness and vagueness.
It is a common knowledge that this period of change is much harder experienced by a female than by a male. The probable reason is the more obvious change in girl’s appearance. That has a negative influence on females’ emotional state of feelings. However, males’ attitude towards this change is rather positive. And the source they are addressing themselves to is internet in most cases. As many other people, teenagers tend to consult the internet in order to help themselves to explain and understand how everything should be and work around them.
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While addressing to the internet teenagers unconsciously compare themselves and situations in their lives to ones that they see on the screen. And that comparison might work as a source of motivation for the teenagers to change something either in them or around them in order to become successful, meet their life expectations and achieve new goals. Approximately 90 percent of all young people have been online. Teenagers are visiting the web sites of their favorite TV shows, singers, bands, movies, video games, etc.
Moreover, they are attracted to the commercial sites, since the web sites are designed in bright colors to be appealing in order to attract teenagers and involve them in interactive games (Dotson, Hyatt, 2005). Teenagers are also used to shop online. Approximately 37 percent of children under 12 and 67 percent of teenagers are researching and buying products online on a permanent basis. It was estimated that in 2002 children starting from 5 up to 18 spent 1. 3 billion dollars on online shopping (Dotson, Hyatt, 2005). Internet has a strong influence on teenagers.
This paper is going to explore the influence of the internet on teenagers’ behavior and attitude towards their lifestyle by collecting and presenting the findings of different researchers regarding the influence of the internet on the teenagers. Even though the internet helps the teenagers to become more literate in technological issues, it does a direct influence on their sexual behavior and on their perception and attitude towards the world in general. Even though the Internet has its advantages, it consumes a lot of teenagers’ free time.
Thus, less time is remaining for their studies, and they also spend less time communicating with their friends and family. According to the time-displacement theory says that if people start a new activity or start using a new technology, they have to reduce time devoted to the old activities or technologies (Shim, 2007). The study conducted by Shim showed that the Internet use has a direct relationship to the reduction of the desire for face-to-face communication with family and friends. In addition, the findings indicated that the Internet significantly changes the teenagers’ attitude towards the members of their family and friends.
The more time teenagers spend online, the less is the desire for spending time with family by finding “an escape in cyberspace” (2007). Thus, teenagers who go online in order to stay away from the face-to-face communication are more likely to have the absence of the desire for the communication with their peers and members of the family. “89% of teens use the Internet at least once per week, and 61% use it daily. Most of the time spent on the Internet is used instant messaging and emailing friends they know from school and other real life locations and activities” (Pyle, 2008).
The Internet has also a strong influence on teenagers’ sexual behavior. The Internet has a huge impact on the formation of the teenagers’ sexual behavior and the attitude towards the sexual affairs. The study done by Peter and Valkenburg proves that the exposure to the Internet sexual materials leads to the greater sexual uncertainty and more positive attitudes towards the free sexual exploration (2008). Teenagers feel more comfortable to bring up the conversation regarding the intimate topics online rather than personally with their friends.
However, sometimes when they meet in reality with the person they discussed these intimacy-related topics, there is a probability for a trouble to happen, since teenagers are not ready for any intimate issues in real life (Pyle, 2008). “Online group interactions to exchange intimate experiences and techniques have led to the collective development of new sexual scripts on the Internet” (Ngo, Ratliff, Ross, 2008). A research fellow at the Hoover Institute Mary Eberstadt states that nowadays for teenagers pornography is as cool as cigarettes were in 1950s (Melby, 2010).
According to the survey in which 594 students participated, it was found that small children (8-10 years) are not so exposed to the Internet pornography (less than two percent). However, later they are much more exposed to watch the pornography online “by age 11 (11 percent), age 12 (16 percent) and age 13 (21 percent). The mean age of first exposure was 14. 3 for boys and 14. 8 for girls” (Melby, 2010). It is found that males having the Internet access experience initiate earlier the oral sex experience that those ones without the Internet access (Kraus, Russel, 2008).
In addition, teenagers with the Internet access are more inclined to have sexual relationships earlier than those who have no Internet access (Melby, 2008). Internet also serves as an information search tool for teenagers for their educational purposes. The Internet contain different kinds of materials which are either hard to find or unaffordable for a person to purchase but can be easily downloaded from the Internet. Majority of the teenagers has conveyed their parents that the Internet is quite useful and necessary for school studies.
A great number of teens and adults searched the information about the schools, universities and future employers exactly in the Internet (Hitlin, Rainie, 2005). The most recent Pew Internet Project survey found the following: 87% of all youth between the ages of 12 and 17 use the internet. That translates into about 21 million people. Of those 21 million online teens, 78% (or about 16 million students) say they use the internet at school. Put another way, this means that 68% of all teenagers have used the internet at school.
This represents growth of roughly 45% over the past four years from about 11 million teens who used the internet in schools in late 2000. In the Pew Internet Project survey in late 2000, we found that 73% of those ages 12 to 17 used the internet and that 47% of those in that age cohort used the internet at school (Hitlin, Rainie, 2005). Teenagers got used to surf the Internet while being at school. Among those teenagers who said that they use the Internet from different locations approximately 18% of all online teens say that they use the Internet at school (Hitlin, Rainie, 2005).
Yet, there are about 37% of teenagers that believe that their peers use the Internet too much for cheating but not for educational purposes. Moreover, teenagers and parents have controversial opinions regarding the issue of web-literacy of children by the time they actually start attending the school (Hitlin, Rainie, 2005). One of the most important educational purpose of the Internet is the promotion of the sexual health for teenagers. There was created a new computer game based on promotion of sexual health. t was found that this game is quite popular according to the number of visits to the site which is approximately 250,000 players. They were attracted by the e-mail responses from game players where the learnt experience was shared publicly. Such kind of computer interactive games is useful not only in promoting the sexual health information, but also in “enabling individual users to identify their own risk behaviours in a ‘non-confrontational’, ‘non-embarrassing’ environment” (Carlin, Goold, Ward, 2003).
To conclude, it is obvious that the Internet has really strong influence on the teenagers, their perceptions and attitudes towards the world around them. Internet is a powerful tool which unconsciously shapes their mentality. The major negative aspect is that the Internet consumes a lot of teenagers’ free time. Since the Internet takes the bigger part of their free time, teenagers spend less time on their studies, communication with peers and family members. They kind of find the escape in the cyberspace. In addition, one more negative aspect is the influence of the Internet on teenagers’ sexual behavior.