Are Children Smarter Because of the Internet - Research Paper Example

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This research will begin with the statement that the internet has brought a dramatic change in the way people interact with one another. Although the effects are witnessed by all generations in general, yet the young generation is impacted by the Internet the most…
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Are Children Smarter Because of the Internet?
The internet has brought a dramatic change in the way people interact with one another. Although the effects are witnessed by all generations in general, yet the young generation is impacted by the Internet the most. There is also variation in the extent to which children belonging to different areas are affected by the Internet since the use of the Internet is generally more common in the urban areas as compared to the rural areas. Overall, use of the Internet has played an important role in making the children both sociable and smarter because they have gained increased exposure to the areas of knowledge that they were unaware of before. The growing use of the Internet among the young generation can be attributed to the fact that they have born in an age when the Internet was introduced into the society, so in a way, the young generation and the Internet are growing and thriving together.
For a vast majority of children, use of the Internet is a behavior as typical as watching television or using a phone. A 2005 Pew Research Center report found that 87 percent of the children between 12 and 17 years of age use the Internet regularly (Packard, 2007). This was found to be a 24 percent increase in the use of the Internet since 2001. Noticing the rapid increase in the use of the Internet by the children in such a short span of time, many psychologists are motivated to find the answer to the question; Are children smarter or more socialized because of the Internet? A lot of research has been done in this area. A research led by Linda Jackson, the psychologist at the Michigan State University led to the finding that use of the home Internet by the children improved their scores in the standardized reading tests. “We had the same question for television decades ago, but I think the Internet is more important than television because it's interactive…It's 24/7 and it's ubiquitous in young people's lives” (Jackson cited in Packard, 2007, p. 44). Jackson conducted research on 140 urban children from the low-income families. Most children included in the study were African American aged around 13 years and were underperforming in the school.
The tendency of children to really gain and be educated from the Internet is tremendous because of the fact that the Internet is a learning medium quite unlike the traditional mediums that children find dreary and uninteresting; “What's unique about the Internet as compared with traditional ways of developing academic performance skills is that it's more of a fun environment…It's a play tool. You can learn without any pain. Beneficial academic outcomes may just be a coincidental effect of having a good time” (Jackson cited in Packard, 2007). Children have adopted unique ways of interacting and socializing with one another beyond limits. Interaction with the social media and video games have removed the individualistic differences among the child users based on their culture and has increased harmony among them.
The internet has made children of the modern age smarter. The criticism on this perception is based on the assumption that digital freedom cannot be integrated into the society like literacy has been integrated. There are three fundamental beliefs on which this assumption rests; the first is that the intellectual attainment level in the recent past was too high to be ever surpassed, the second is that the present age is characterized by unintellectual stuff rather than noble experiments, and the third is that the young generation cannot invent the cultural norms that do for the abundance of the Internet what was done for the print culture by the intellectuals of the 17th century (Shirky, 2010).
Children have become more socialized with the use of the Internet. Popular social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter have played a special role in improving the tendency of the children to socialize. Although not every individual added as a friend on a social networking site is really a friend, yet adding someone as a friend opens the way for communication that does take place in a vast majority of cases. Children use the Internet to socialize with people that might not otherwise socialize in their everyday life. “Internet connections may facilitate the initial contact among those with social anxiety, with people beginning by investing their sense of “true self” in Internet interactions” (Tyler, 2002, p. 200). This suggests that the Internet helps people overcome their weaknesses that come in their way of socialization in the real world. Social networking sites have provided the children with the right connections so that they know who is the right person to approach for a particular matter within a fraction of a second.
Real-world interaction is limited by the constraints of time, cost, and distance. Although cell phones have served as a solution for these constraints to a certain extent, yet the constraint of time and cost are still affecting the real-world interaction since calls are not free of charge and the person being called might not be available. Services like Skype and online chatting over the Internet have helped remove these constraints in the process of socialization. Calls over the Internet are not only free, but also the caller knows what is the right time to call someone by checking his status as online or offline. In addition to that, the quality of communication over the Internet is better than that over the cellphone because the Internet services provide callers with a way to make video calls.
Livingstone and Helsper (2008) studied the regulation of the online activities of teenagers and children by the parents. The research was carried out on 906 parents and 1511 children between 12 and 17 years of age. They found the exposure of the children to different kinds of risks over the Internet. Although different kinds of strategies are implemented by the parents in an attempt to favor the rules of interaction over the technical restrictions using monitoring software, though these attempts were not found to be very effective in reducing the risk for the children. Findings of this research impact the need to identify useful strategies for the children to interact and socialize over the Internet without impeding their freedom. The consciousness of the parents to protect their children against the risks of the virtual world reflects that parents generally do not consider their child users of the Internet very smart.
HomeNetToo was a longitudinal research carried out by Jackson, Eye, and Biocca (2006) aimed at examining the consequences and antecedents of the use of the home Internet by the low-income urban families. 90 families participated in the research, in which there were 140 children and 117 adults. Most of the children and adults were African American. Overall findings of the research indicate that there are no adverse effects on home Internet use over the social or psychological outcomes of the children, and it does improve their academic performance.
Although a considerable amount of research has been carried out to study the way Internet affects the lives of people from all ages, yet the emphasis on the children particularly during their teenage has been more widely studied. Nevertheless, more research is required to analyze the generalizability of the findings of the research reviewed in this paper. Most of the studies reviewed have participants belonging to the low-income families and the research participants have been mostly African Americans from the urban areas. In addition, most of the research participants in the reviewed researchers have been teenagers. This research will analyze the generalizability of the past research by including an equal number of children from different races including African Americans, Caucasian Americans, and Hispanic Americans. Children included in this research will be from 5 to 12 years of age so that the gap in research related to the effect of the use of the Internet on children below teenage is filled. In addition to that, a vast majority of the research participants in this research will be children from the rural areas since they are traditionally underrepresented in the samples selected for research purposes. Children from the rural areas are also very suitable for this study because they generally have lesser exposure to facilities and opportunities that the children from the urban areas have, and any smartness added in their behavior because of the use of the Internet would be more easily noticeable. Expected results of the research are that children’s level of smartness and their abilities to socialize are improved with the use of the Internet. Whether the null hypothesis is accepted or rejected, this research will provide the audience in general and the parents of the child users of the Internet in particular with useful guidelines and insight into children’s psychosocial development and advancement with the use of the Internet. This will help the parents use right strategies to optimize the potential of their children to benefit from the use of the Internet.
Jackson, L. A., Eye, A., and Biocca, F. (2006). Children and Internet Use: Social, Psychological
and Academic Consequences for Low-income Children. American Psychological Association. Retrieved from
Livingstone, S., and Helsper, P. (2008). Parental mediation and children’s Internet use. Journal
of Broadcasting & electronic media. 52(4), 581-599.
Packard, E. (2007). It's fun, but does it make you smarter? American Psychological Association.
Shirky, C. (2010, June 4). Does the Internet Make You Smarter? The Wall Street Journal.
Retrieved from
Tyler, T. R. (2002). Is the internet changing a social life? It seems the more things change, the
more they stay the same. Journal of Social Issues. 58(1), 195-205. Read More
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Comments (4)
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erdmanblake added comment 1 year ago
Student rated this paper as
I came across this paper and downloaded for the title only. I'm impressed!
derdman added comment 1 year ago
Student rated this paper as
It is a good issue for studying, as for me. The Internet gives us access to practically any information we might be interested in. Now you don’t have to memorize every single question that comes to your mind, write it down and spend all your weekends in the library to find that out. That is a lot of struggle, and that is why hardly somebody did that in previous generations. Those who did were nerds and then, maybe, successful scientists. Now even the silliest and stupid questions, like ‘why plastic bag rustles’ can be answered within seconds via 3G in each smartphone. On the one hand, children have access to the unlimited resource of studying. On the other hand, do they actually use it for that purpose?
kianagerlach added comment 1 year ago
Student rated this paper as
Marvelous statistics! I was looking for research like that to complete my own. It is actually a hot topic nowadays, isn’t it? We never know what teenagers are actually doing and why do they spend so much time with their devices. It becomes evident that the way of communication between people is changing, and some of us are not noticing it. We have to pay more attention to technologies and how they conquer our lives.
legrospansy added comment 1 year ago
Student rated this paper as
I will definitely show this one to my parents! I’m so tired of explaining what we do when we’re online. Why adults only believe we play games and chat with each other all the time? We still need our privacy, same as before. I personally like watching TED Talks from time to time. Also, I did go through some Coursera courses I was interested in. Download, print out and leave on the table in the dining room. Thank you!

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