Mass media and the Internet are often viewed as universal sources of information.
Adults, teenagers and even children surf the Internet seeking information, reading the news, watching videos, and communicating with friends. Today, we take this all for granted without realizing the hidden dangers posed by the Internet. “What danger are you talking about? The Internet is a super-fast way of finding whatever you need within just a few seconds! It’s cheap and fast!” Such is the typical reaction from the average Internet user. Still, it’s high time to admit that the power of this worldwide source of information can be considered as a rather negative one.
Using the Internet without any limits is harmful to all aspects of one’s personality – psychologically, emotionally, and physically. Even a decade ago, interpersonal communication was far less computer mediated than it is today. People tended to spend more time with face-to-face communication; thus, relationships were closer and more successful and honest. Now, it’s quite the opposite. We can hardly imagine our private life without popular social networking sites. While becoming more distant in our close relationships, there’s little chance our connections with new acquaintances will last for more than a couple of weeks and will be superficial, at best. Why go and see a close friend or a relative when it’s much easier to send a brief message via a social networking site! In fact, doing so indicates that people are prioritizing time rather than developing relationships with friends and family.
For that reason, people in most age groups tend to develop and maintain social isolation, resulting in loneliness. The worse thing is that only a few realize they are trapped by the Internet, which substitutes a life full of values and social benefits with a sense of false reality. Individuals become accustomed to constantly checking their messaging systems and e-mail rather than engaging in more immediate communication opportunities, like talking to the physical person before them. This problem is episodic across geographic and cultural boundaries. It is happening world-wide! Just observe people in a restaurant and see how many are engaged with their smart phones instead of conversation with their dinner partner.
What is even more alarming is that children are becoming more vulnerable emotionally and increasingly addicted to the power of the Internet. Instead of playing outdoors with their friends or reading adventure books, they are sitting in front of their computers, attracted by a deluge of pictures and slides advertising a huge number of unnecessary merchandise or feeling obsessed with how many likes they getting for their postings. Moreover, they become aware of concepts which are not suitable for their age (Lewis, 2015).
If not for adult intervention, the emotional sphere of the younger generations can be influenced in a rather negative way. Moreover, the lack of physical activity can have a negative effect on their health. Needless to say, children require close monitoring. The best example to follow is the one that we demonstrate. However, in the majority of cases, adults forget the importance of practicing what they preach.
It’s time to recognize the harm of excessive Internet activity and becoming more serious, alert and selective towards its use. Parental control with the use of software applications is one effective strategy for limiting children’s access to the Internet.
Also, encouraging children to spend more time in physical activities can contribute to their health, as well as their overall development.
Finally, members of any age group will definitely find themselves happier by developing real, face-to-face relationships than virtual ones. There is more to do and more to share. It also seems to be the only way to overcome personal isolation and to build on strong and effective relationships.
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