The Internet has a great deal of benefit in our lives. It is the window that opens onto the world and shows us everything that is happening around us. Although it is meant to help and support our needs, enrich our social lives and expand our civic connections, it has not been going so far in this way. A lot of research is showing that the heavy use of cyberspace is isolating people form the world around them. Knowing that adolescents are spending a great deal of their time in cyberspace, this article will examine the things they miss when they are left to grow up in it.
Leaving Adolescents Grow Up in Cyberspace
The question on whether leaving adolescents grow up in cyberspace is beneficial or not has long been controversial. When a lot agree that cyberspace has made their life easier, many others believe the opposite. Everything has side effects, which might have great impact on its user if not handled properly. It seems that adolescents, out of all other people, all missing a lot when their parents are letting them grow up in cyberspace.
Everything in this advanced world is possible these days, that’s why we find students who study on the Internet in hybrid or online courses. Traditionally, learning has been assumed to take place in a classroom or face-to-face environment where the instructor and students are physically together, but not all students learn the same way and therefore the traditional approach is not ideal for all students (Young, 2007). This is true, but a lot of students are finding it difficult to cope with the new and modern way of learning, where the instructor lectures them online.
Some students say:
-“Instructor feedback tend to be slow”
-“I didn’t feel as part of the class”
-“You can’t verbalize your thoughts and let others hear your ideas”
-“Too many technical problems”
-“Unreliable Internet connections from my Internet service provider”
-“You also lose the personal teacher student relationship”
-“No way to read body language”
-“With on-line classes, it is hard to be able to get the whole “personal” thing”
-“You don’t get to see the professor or class members face-to-face”
-“It takes more time to e-mail or post a question on the discussion board and wait for a response” (“Students’ Positive and Negative Experience in Hybrid and Online Classes”, 2007, page). Moreover, Irvine(2004) states: “Assignments are dispersed online. Students are much more likely to do research online than use a library. And even class handouts have gone the way of the Web, posted on electronic bulletin boards for downloading after class”(p.31A).
So, if the Internet connection went off, students wouldn’t be able to continue their work. When the computer server in Emory University went down for a few hours one evening, a lot of people were at loose ends, they couldn’t to their homework (Sridharan, 2004). This is how adolescents are missing the more active and efficient way of learning because of cyberspace, thus suffering from a lot of educational and studying problems they are better off without.
Looking at the world today would make us realize how much we miss security. And since adolescents are widely using cyberspace, they are the most likely to get affected by what it generates. A lot of teenagers have no problem in making friends, of whom they’ve never seen. In fact, they see that it is one of the purposes of using the Internet. But they never realize how dangerous it could be to meet someone you haven’t actually seen. The Internet allows people to communicate with people who are different from them, people in another country or kids at school they don’t talk to. This access of information is so easy, but of course there is a dark side to having such broad access: it gives identity thieves and sexual predators a new place to look for victims (Stern, 2004). Also, the Internet has shaped the way adolescents work, live, and relax.
It has even created new ways for them to express themselves which might be liberating and fun but can also become a forum for of pettiness and criminal exploitation (Irvine, 2004). Furthermore, Ian and Walder (2005) say: As we have become dependent on the Internet, as the network of networks, so we have become vulnerable to criminal and terrorist networks that use cyberspace as a means to undermine and circumvent state control.
Protecting against those that wish to attack the integrity, confidentiality and availability of systems and data they process, is primarily an issue of implementing appropriate security measures. (page) The main purpose for this worry is because adolescents are unaware of what criminals might do to take advantage of people who want to be friendly, allowing them to threaten the country’s and society’s safety. In this way letting them spend too much time in cyberspace is making them loose a lot of security which puts them in dangerous problems later on.
We must not forget the most important consequence of growing up in cyberspace: lack of social life and relationships. Sitting in front of the monitor for several continuous hours, without even noticing how time flies by quickly, makes us never want to get off the chair. As many adolescents are living in virtual communities, their only concern is making friends online. Ten years ago, social theorists were suggesting that the Internet would revolutionize social relationships (Carter & Denise M., 2004). Now, the Internet has come a far distance that kids and teens can’t live without it; people can find a job without leaving their desks, shop online without going to the mall and communicate with others without meeting face-to-face by e-mails, online chat rooms and instant messages.
So, all the activities that were done with family and friends, are being done alone on the Internet. As a result, such activities have proved to be more isolating than watching television, which friends and family often do in groups, and the time spent with them is decreasing a lot in the presence of the Web. In addition, teens are preferring not to go out for walks or hang out with friends because they are busy in their own larger world. Know it or not, youngsters who are allowing time online to replace face-to-face interaction are being isolated from the real world and are being trapped in the virtual world (Staples, 2004).
Seemingly, “Teenagers who spend much of their lives hunched over computer screens miss the socializing, the real world experience that would allow them to leave adolescence behind and grow into adulthood. These vital experiences, like much else, are simply not available in a virtual form” (Staples, 2004, p.A29). All of this is breaking the social relationships and is bringing up adults that don’t know how to deal with others because they never had the chance to sit and talk face-to-face.
A lot of people fear of not being able to go with the flow; who ever doesn’t have access to cyberspace doesn’t have a life. But this isn’t proved to be completely true since it’s not being used in the best and efficient way. Of course it’s the parents job to lead them to the right track; they should always keep them under high supervision. To be more specific, parents should encourage them to have a real life, make real friends, go to real places and spend quality time with family. This doesn’t mean getting rid of this great technology but not letting it control them. Indeed, adolescents are missing a lot of the real world and its content, and aren’t aware of the circumstances and the costs of growing up in cyberspace.
Carter & Denise, M.(2004, December).Living in Virtual Communities: Making Friends Online.Journal of Urban Technology 11(3), 109-125.Retrieved March 19, 2008, from EBSCO Host database.
El Mansour, B. & Mupinga, D.M.(2007, March).Students’ Positive and Negative Experiences in Hybrid and Online Classes.College Student Journal 41(1), 242-248.Retrieved March 19, 2008, from EBSCO Host database.
Ian & Walder.(2005, April).Crime and Security in Cyberspace.Cambridge Review of International Affairs 11(3), 109-125.Retrieved March 19, 2008, from EBSCO Host database.
Irvine, M.(2004, December 5).Youths Adopt, Drive Technology Advances.Fort Worth Star-Telegram, p.31A.
Staples, B.(2004, May 29).What Adolescents Miss When We Let Them Grow Up in Cyberspace.New York Times, p.A24.