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Internet Influence on Kids, Essay Example

Pages: 3

Words: 889

Essay

Internet has put the information at our fingertips and has influenced almost all aspects of our daily lives. We now get our news on the internet, communicate through the internet, schedule our tasks on the internet, shop on the internet, and even carry out financial affairs on the internet among many other things. While internet has largely been a positive force in our lives, like every other technology it also poses certain challenges. One of the major challenges has been managing the potential negative influences of internet on kids who do not have the maturity to make responsible decisions. Further complicating the issue is the fact that children have access to internet almost everywhere. The parents and the society can and should take steps to protect our children from the negative influences of the internet.

Kids are often a favorite target of marketers. This is because kids lack the maturity to make informed decisions as well as weigh the pros and cons of products and services, thus, it is easy to influence them through emotions. In addition, internet has made it possible to gather data on website users and many websites are particularly geared at kids. Marketers have never lagged behind in innovation and many marketers are now using internet games to increase loyalty among their young customers and induce them to demand the product. These games that are part of the overall marketing strategy are also called advergames. A study published in the Journal of Children and Media found that children were 77 percent more likely to visit pages with advergames than other sites and spent 88 percent more time on these sites as compared to others. The study also found that children playing games that advertised unhealthy foods ate 56 percent more unhealthy snacks as compared to those playing games advertising healthy food. Thus, the study showed that media including games on the internet do influence children’s food habits. The study also provides a great solution which is to develop more games that advertise healthy foods. The children who played games with healthy food ate 50 percent more grapes and carrots than unhealthy game players (Park). Another solution to discourage children from harmful advergames is to encourage them to engage in physical activities and parents could also participate in physical activities to motivate children.

Internet has also increased the risk that kids are exposed to adult material at early age. A study by RAND and the University of North Carolina showed that teenagers who view sex material in the media are more likely to engage in same behaviors themselves (Teresa). A survey by London School of Economics in 2002 found that 90 percent of children between the ages of 8 and 16 had viewed pornography on the internet and in many instances, the sex sites were accessed unintentionally (Louge). Several measures could be taken to reduce the exposure of kids to adult material on the internet. First of all, parents should install Parental Control Software on their computers. They could also complement the software with personal monitoring. In addition, the government should require adult websites to make it more difficult to access their content without reliable verification tools. Unlike old days when adult programs would often air late night when most of the children would already have gone to bed, adult content on the internet is available round the clock which makes the issue even more challenging.

The exposure to internet has also been increasing undesirable behavior among young people. The Office of the Surgeon General stated that children are theoretically more susceptible to behavioral influences as active participants as compared to being observers. If true, this means that interactive games on the internet with violent themes may have stronger influences on kids than violence in movies (StateUniversity.com). Studies have shown that adolescents form virtual support communities to support unhealthy behaviors such as eating disorder. Similarly, a national poll found that 54 percent girls reported being online without their parents’ knowledge as well as being involved in some sort of cyber relationship (Louge). Another phenomenon that is finally catching our attention is cyber bullying. It is possible that kids are more encouraged to engage in bullying online because they can stay anonymous, can bully whenever they want to, and have easy access to the victim’s social profiles. It is not uncommon to read news on the internet where the victims of cyber bullying were forced into the corner and eventually ended up committing suicide.

Internet is here to stay and it may have created some challenges but it is not uncommon with technologies that have such widespread influence on numerous aspects of life. The key is to take steps to protect our children and teach them safe internet habits because they do not have the experience or the maturity to fully understand the risks of internet. Over time, these problems may decline as we better understand them and tackle them through both personal behavior and regulations aimed at internet companies and other stakeholders.

References

Louge, Nathalie. Adolescents and the Internet. October 2006. 24 July 2012 <http://www.actforyouth.net/resources/rf/rf_internet_1006.pdf>.

Park, Alice. Can Online Games Influence What Kids Eat? 10 January 2012. 24 July 2012 <http://healthland.time.com/2012/01/10/how-online-games-can-influence-what-kids-eat/>.

StateUniversity.com. Influence on Children Media – History of Media for Children, General Considerations, Studies of Media Influence, Domains of Influence, Recommendations. 24 July 2012 <http://education.stateuniversity.com/pages/2212/Media-Influence-on-Children.html>.

Teresa. Children Media Influence. 24 July 2012 <http://www.thecutekid.com/parenting/children-media-influence.php>.

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