Electronics and technology have become an indispensable part of young children and teenagers lives. Precisely, in the recent decades, the world has witnessed an explosion of the use of online media among the young generation. Many children have access to the internet either at home or even at public amenities such as schools and libraries. The use of emails, instant messaging and forum boards used to be the most common means of communication. Also, they were limited electronic implements for leisure and entertainment. In todays world, technology has advanced to bring in more sophisticated types of online communication and entertainment media such as online videos and multiplayer online games. It is not a surprise that a remarkable number of children are now reliant on technology. The advancement has created new opportunities for social interaction, especially among children and adolescents. However, as teenagers continue to become immersed in media, they are elements of risks that inhibit its use (Brown p148). The common hazards posing a concern for online safety include internet addiction, online predators, cyberbullying and sexual solicitation among others.
Sexual solicitation is among primary concerns parents have about underage children accessing the internet. Sexual solicitation refers to different forms of communication in digital platforms where one person mainly an adult attempts to persuade another person to talk about sex or engage in sexual activities (Farrukh, Sadwick & Villasenor p5). In most cases, the perpetrators introduce pornographic materials as a way of stimulating feeling to victims. Though, only a few online sexual solicitation lead to offline meetings they are many effects associated with such incidences. Some of the implications of online sexual solicitation are minors engaging in early sexual activities especially with adults, increased rate of sexual deviancy and acceptance of sexual and rape myths. Also, exposure to erotic posts might cause the adverse emotional change to those who did not wish to view such content.
Internet addiction is an online-related irrational behavior, which does not involve the use of intoxicating drugs, but results to use of an unhealthy amount of time online (Wisniewski, Pamela et.al p 4). It impairs someones normal life just like any other addiction. Among teenagers, the common characteristics of internet addiction are developing an emotional attachment to an on-line activity and friends you encounter online. Also, one might spend endless hours researching interesting blogs and topics. Afterward, they keep track of commentaries and occurrence of related events. During this period, addicts enjoy most the internet aspects that allow them to meet, socialize and exchange ideas with other users. Similar to other addictions internet users creates virtual fantasy to connect with real people which to their disappointment they are unable to achieve.
Incessant use of internet leads to mental and psychological disorders such as anxiety, stress, and depression. In most cases, one will only feel gratified by visiting a popular site, chatting online or playing video games. The addiction affects their responsibilities impairing their attention to domestic chores, school work, relationships and socializing skills. Effects such as social phobia are predominant preventing adolescents from facing public networks. As a result young addicts limit their integration with family and society. Other effects of adolescent internet addiction are reduced concentration especially while studying, anxiety when faced with real life situations, sleep disturbance and conflicting emotions among others.
Bullying is a common occurrence and has been around forever. However, in the digital world cyberbullying takes various forms such as sending hateful messages, death threats, making nasty comments, spreading lies all with the intention of damaging the look or reputation of the other person. The reason cyberbullies engage in this act tends to vary. However, the most common one is revenge for perceived wrong-doing especially among teenagers (Nixon para3). Cyberbullying is posing quite a challenge to parents and authorities protecting children from this menace as perpetrators have come up with accounts to shield their identity which might last for an extended period. The reason why cyberbullying has gained popularity include the ability of afraid or weak people even those younger than the victims to use cyberspace to dispatch hateful messages and comments without being identified.
The young perpetrators also prefer cyberspace over traditional bullying as the sent or posted images, or comments will reach a wider audience. If not managed to cyberbullying might cause a lot of harm to the victim. In fact, the more you use electronic devices as means of communication, the more likely you expose yourself to harassment. Contrary to traditional bullying the perpetrators have no room to observe the reaction of their victims which makes them go on with blackmailing. As a result, they instill unbearable pain likely to cause stress, emotional disorder, and low self-esteem among affected children. Violence, extreme levels of sadness, increased problems in school and suicidal thoughts and threats are all associated with cyberbullying. Also, it forms a tendency where adolescents externalize issues through substance abuse.
For decades now, online predators have been featuring in news reports. The online world has created a path at which children interact even with virtual strangers one would avoid on regular occurrences (Wolak, Janis, et al. p1). The result has been a drastic change in the rate at which predators are gaining access to attractive profiles of their victims. Although sexual exploitation of adolescents has been a legal and moral challenge over an extended period technological development has expanded this risk. Most of the cases today, involve adult online molesters using the Internet to lure children into sexual assaults. The molesters use divulged information from their victims profiles to identify potential targets. Later they contact children using deceptive social networking accounts as a way of covering up their age and sexual intentions (Wolak, Janis, et al. p1). After some time, of communication and establishing confidence and trust in their victims, they entice their targets into meetings where they end up abducting them.
Predators are fond of introducing sex talks before arranging any meeting with their victims. For this reason, most of their targets end up engaging in sexual encounters (Wolak, Janis, et al. p2). In case, of those who end up fighting against the predators intention the meetings may end up violent. In some situation, young people have lost their lives in the hands of online predators. In other cases, the victims suffer from sexually transmitted diseases, depression, and low self-esteem while others end up committing suicide due to mental disorder. Also, sexual involvement at early adolescence may lead to adverse outcomes in academic performance and other responsibilities.
Positive Impact of Electronics on Children
However, technology is not entirely destructive as it has multiple benefits. From a close look, we get different types of news through websites and digital media. In fact, websites are the quickest means of conveying messages even in remote areas as long as there is access to the internet. Second, helping young generation access digital implements is one of the ways of preparing them to the real world (Wisniewski, Pamela et.al p 2). Today, we pay bills, work, conduct businesses, send and receive emails, manage relationships and access essential information all on the internet. Moreover, technology connects teenagers to other people in the world, and it is impossible to disconnect with them.
For young children as young as six electronic devices inspire their senses and imagination. In fact, some may promote their learning and listening abilities as well as speech development. Also, though people worry about technology addiction especially with the use of various devices especially those used for games, there is a likelihood these gadgets may encourage cognitive learning and growth of analytical skills (Brown p6). As a result, teenagers end up innovative and creative than before. In other cases, where parents are concerned with content dispatched in various websites, some children might use the same to learn and understand the manner in which their bodies functions and the repercussion of undesirable behaviors.
In conclusion, despite the concerns arising from increased use of internet they are positive ways technology affects teenagers daily lives. In fact, most of them cannot imagine a life without the global connection and what left for parents, schools, and authorities is to manage children internet exposure. Lastly, since there are no means of adequately protecting adolescents from online hazards, it is necessary to understand the manner in which the risk experiences impacts teens that involve managing those factors causing psychological harm despite children being exposed to online dangers.
Brown, Jon. Online Risk to Children. Sl.: John Wiley & Sons, 2017. Print.
Farrukh, Adina, Rebecca Sadwick, and John Villasenor. "Youth Internet Safety: Risks, Responses, and study recommendations." Center for Technology Innovation at Brookings. Retrieved from http://www. Brookings. Edu/~/media/research/files/papers/2014/10/21-youth internet safety-Farrukh-sadwick-Villasenor/youth-internet-safety_v07. Pdf (2014).
Nixon, Charisse L. "Current perspectives: the impact of cyberbullying on adolescent health." Adolescent health, medicine and therapeutics 5 (2014): 143.
Wisniewski, Pamela, et al. "Resilience mitigates the negative effects of adolescent internet addiction and online risk exposure." Proceedings of the 33rd Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. ACM, 2015.Wolak, Janis, et al. "Online predators: myth versus reality." New England Journal of Public Policy 25.1 (2013): 6.
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