Teens and the Internet: the Good and the Bad

Mar 06, 2013

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Cyber Bullied

Many young people in the UK are feeling isolated and are turning to the Internet in order to reach out to other people and feel a sense of community, according to a new survey. This quest is being met with mixed results. While 23% of the people polled said that the Internet “gave them a sense of community and friendship that they didn’t have in real life,” a third said that they had felt depressed as a result of something written or posted on a social-networking site, and one in five had also felt inadequate after comparing themselves to their peers on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. One in ten young people had been bullied online, while one in five had witnessed more bullying online than in person.

However, it does get better as these teens get older. 18% of 16 to 18 year-olds reported being bullied online, while only 15% of 19 to 21 year-olds and 10% of 22 to 25 year-olds said that they were bullied.

Why are teens feeling so isolated? Have they not been taught how to socialize in real life? It seems that young people are getting too wrapped up in their online world and forget that they only see the good things that other people choose to put online. It’s not likely that anyone is posting about all the boring, mundane things in their life, so teens are comparing the good things in others’ lives to the good and bad things in their own lives. That warped perception of reality can cause problems.

It seems that the Internet both isolates and binds young people together. The problem is separating out the good and bad results of spending time online. A little bit of online time can be a good thing, helping teens feel connected to communities of people they might not otherwise meet. At the same time, too much Internet means that teens don’t get out and experience the rest of this amazing world.

Talk to your teens about appropriate online behavior. Don’t let them get caught up in cyberbullying, either as victims or perpetrators. Help them be cautious with how much information they share with people they know only online. But at the same time, let them discover the good things about the Internet, like keeping up with friends and family on the other side of the world.

I work for Net Nanny and all opinions are my own.