Is The Internet A Cell That Locks Up Children?

I would like to begin with a very powerful quote of Nassim Nicholas Taleb to set the tone for the blog; “The difference between technology and slavery is that slaves are fully aware that they are not free.” In a world where the ecosystem is co-dependent on technology and the internet, the worth for humans has been decimating; Let alone human emotions and relationships. Dr. Andrew Proulx suggested that children who spend excessive time online, tend to develop a strong attachment to virtual relationships; By even substituting the virtual ones for the real relationships. Children who are socially awkward are drawn towards excessive internet usage as they find virtual relationships very manageable. Although this gives them company, it deteriorates the ability to create and sustain organic ties.

This blog will mainly focus on the trends in internet usage by children; And highlight their behavioural pattern and other impacts of prolonged internet usage.

Trends in Internet Usage in India

In India, around 32% of the internet users are between the age group of 12 and 19. Teenagers spend 26% of their time browsing the internet for entertainment; And teenage boys in particular, spend 25% of the day playing games online. However, only a meagre 2% of their time is devoted for educational purposes. A survey conducted by Common Sense Media in 2015, suggested that 45% of the teenagers use social media every day; While about 67% of the teenagers watched television every single day. 50% of the teenagers listened to music while working. An average of 11 hours and 13 minutes of media time was recorded by African and Indian teenagers in a day, while the world average is close to 9 hours per day.

Behavioural Trends and Other Impact

Excessive time surfing the internet has significantly affected the critical thinking of the children; As well as damaged their sense of creativity and articulation. Children are also exposed to other malicious hazards posed by the internet, such as cyber bullying and fraudulent information that has the capacity to impair logical reasoning. Children who are exposed to the internet for a prolonged period of time often tend to react impulsively and emotionally, without putting their logical and critical reasoning to use. The prevalence of inappropriate content over the internet is really a cause for concern, with young teenagers themselves worrying about the accessibility of pornography. Institute of Public Policy Research, in 2014, concluded from their survey that 80% of the teenagers find porn easily accessible in the internet, while 72% of the teenagers have expressed concern about the unrealistic expectations set by pornography about sex life. Many researchers like Oche Otorkpa have expressed their concern about the addiction to online pornography through quotes like “One thing you must realize is that: you either kill your addiction or your addiction will eventually kill you.” Another significant behavioural change among children is that they start to resist change. Most of the parents observe that children who have been exposed to the internet excessively, start to retaliate and rebel against anyone who tries to change their routine; That would in turn, hinder their prolonged use of the internet.

Personal Opinion

The Internet offers a lot of advantages like helping connect with acquaintances, friends and family despite geographical difficulties; An instant source of information and guidance regarding any aspect of life. However, the internet has the ability to draw people into it for long periods of time, thereby affecting the natural routine and lifestyle. It also causes a lot of health issues like eye strain, ADHD, sleep deprivation, bad posture, etc. Addiction to social media and online pornography has significantly disrupted the thought process of children; And their attention span and the ability to concentrate and think productively, have taken a very bad hit. Therefore, children must be selectively monitored by their care-takers to make sure they are on the right path. Digital Parenting has become very relevant due to these issues, and every parent has to follow the guidelines of digital parenting to ensure healthy internet habits of their children. Hence, the internet seems like it is really a cage that enslaves the children, if they’re misguided or left unmonitored.

B.S Ashish
B.S Ashish

Ashish is a first year undergraduate at Jindal School of International Affairs. He regularly writes articles and blogs on various issues and events as he feels voicing out one’s opinion is a gift of democracy that has to be utilised to the fullest.