Life in progress

How the Internet is Hurting our Kids

28 Comments

I’m going to start off with a disclaimer, because what I’m about to say, I realize, doesn’t apply to everyone. While I don’t want to generalize, I do find that there is a prevalence, with the introduction of the internet to the general public, toward people getting used to instantaneous gratification. It comes in the form of ‘likes’, having people agree with us, being able to buy something and have it delivered within seconds… the ways are countless.

But I have to wonder how much this bleeds into our real lives. Those of us who grew up without the internet know that sometimes you have to wait for things. We have learned how to save up, sometimes for years, to get what we want.

I’m finding that it’s much harder to teach my children the value of waiting than it might have been had it not been for the internet, and I don’t think I’m alone in this. It seems to me that there are more young people these days looking for handouts because they can’t manage to save enough – they don’t want to wait. And from what I’ve concluded, observing many young people (in this country anyway) there are more of them sitting at home on the internet relying on government assistance than ever before. For instance, according to  Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, in 2012 the unemployment rate for those aged 15-24 was 14.3%, compared to ages 25-54 at 6%. What this tells me is that more kids, in or well out of high school, are living off either their parents’ or the government’s back than those who are wise enough to have figured out that they’re not going to live long if they expect everything to be handed to them. These are supposed to be their brightest and most energetic years, and yet they sit in their rooms and surf.

Are we enabling this behaviour as parents? I think so. It used to be that families who lived off welfare taught their kids to do the same. (See disclaimer.) But now, how do those of us who do work, teach by example when our kids are learning more from the internet than they are from us, their parents? The obvious solution is to cut off the internet – easier said than done. If we do so temporarily and take the time to teach our children the values we grew up with, how long is it going to take them to go back to their “regular programming” once the computer is turned back on? I’m thinking five minutes, if we’re lucky.

It’s a difficult situation we’re in, and one that isn’t going to be solved overnight. Kudos to anyone able to resolve it before our kids turn 25.

Author: Linda G. Hill

There's a writer in here, clawing her way out.

28 thoughts on “How the Internet is Hurting our Kids

  1. Try this on for size: One mis-understood word can “blank out” everything past it. Several mis-understood words passed by can blank out an entire subject for a student. The student will actually “blow” from the subject.
    Ask yourself this: Have I ever tossed a book I was interested in… and never finished it? At the end of a page, ask yourself, “What I just read… what was it about?
    If you tossed the book (subject), you passed several words you mis-understood. If you cannot remember what you just read, there is a word or words on that page, if not earlier, that is mis-understood.
    The 15-24 age group you cited is an indication that in their “education” they are missing mis-understood words.
    THE PROOF? Ask a few of them what “work,” “exchange,” “employment,” or even “money” mean. If they cannot answer or they lag in their answers, have them define the word(s) with a good dictionary, make several sentences up with the word in it, used properly, and then, after that exercise, ask them again, in their own words, what those words mean.
    MIS-UNDERSTOOD WORDS ALSO PREVENT ABILITY TO APPLY OR DO.

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  2. I totally agree with you on that. Most of my friends who are already parents , limit their kids use on the internet or their gadgets and let them be just kids. I guess in a way, parenting still is a major factor on his/her kids internet use. Just my 2 cents.

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    • It is, I agree. I’m sure many parents (myself included) of late teen/young adult kids wish they’d known how addictive it was, back when the internet first introduced into homes. Perhaps then something could have been done to nip the problem in the bud, so to speak. Now that we know, we can be proactive if we choose to, and teach our kids there’s more to life than being online.

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  3. I think the internet makes the mind lazy and bodies follow suit…

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  4. I think passivity – watching images flash over and over without pausing for real thought or reflection – is being hardwired into brains of people of all ages, so that the more people are passive, the more they desire that state of being passive. Being active – making decisions, reflecting, creating – becomes too much work. Limiting how much you are passive is the key. Don’t allow yourself to sit numbly in front of the TV or the internet or passive-activity-of-choice as a reward, don’t let that become your favorite part of the day. Limit how much you are passive at all. That’s not where living really happens. That has to be a choice every person makes for themselves, to really live. Not to just watch the product of someone’s else’s effort passively. I try to engage my kids in non-passive things like music, games, conversation, cooking, hiking and we usually don’t have a lot of time for passive activities. They end up being bored with too much screen time.

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  5. Pingback: Whose Job Is It? | scottishmomus

  6. The internet is a smoke screen for the real issue. It’s a catch all for the blame. It’s not the internet that’s responsible, it’s the parents. I think if we want our kids to do something with their lives, we have to impress upon them that life is not free, that LIFE IS WORK, that the streets are cold and that they won’t be cute enough to collect handouts forever.

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    • As I said, I do think we, as parents of these kids, are enabling them. The issue is that once they get to the stage of young adulthood, it’s harder to compete for their attention.

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  7. We don’t have government assistance here in the states for young folks simply because they want it…I’m not sure how it works where you are. What goes with that? Do people just get assistance because they want it? That in itself sounds like it breeds laziness.

    I’m not sure it’s the internet, especially because through the internet people CAN find work and lots of inspirational ideas to get young people motivated. If a young person is only playing games, then there’s a problem.

    The internet itself isn’t a single negative thing, in fact, it’s a very positive thing if used correctly, so maybe the problem is not the internet. I make my living on the internet, without the internet, I would be homeless.

    I think kids have to have it drilled into their skulls that life IS work. I think that lesson’s gotta start young-young too. I think WORK ETHIC is what’s needed, not necessarily internet shut down. The internet is a part of life now, it’s not going away. We can’t blame it on the internet.

    Kids need to be taught work ethic. It’s dire. Knowing you can get assistance is like enabling a bum. I don’t get that. Hand outs? Try a swift kick in the ass, or perhaps a wake-up call conversation that says, “Get your ass to work.”

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    • It is indeed far easier to get government assistance here in Canada than it is in the United States. And yes, I agree this is a large part of the problem.

      What both I and other parents I’ve spoken to find to be the conundrum is that once kids start at an early age to rely on the internet for entertainment, it’s hard to make them kick the habit. YES, the internet can be used for good – many of us adults use it as means of employment – which is why it’s near to impossible to switch it off, and thus keep our kids off it. Perhaps this article should be a warning to all parents to start early. You have a good point there. Not having the internet until the early part of the millennium, and not realizing what it would become to our children, we parents of young adults don’t have the opportunity to start again. The damage is done. And short of kicking them out (so that they can go on government assistance, because they can’t as long as they live at home) there’s not much to be done, as far as I can see. As I said, kudos to those who find a resolution.

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  8. This is a problem I definitely agree and as you stated just removing them from the Internet won’t really solve the issue as once they return the behaviors will as well. Good food for thought.

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  9. Great post. It pains me to know friends and family would rather watch youtube videos than read a book which I wrote. And also to know if there was no internet or cable, everybody would be reading it.
    However, I find it so rewarding to find there are others who are passionate about reading and writing. In many ways, this blog for me is likened to the stimulus others get from doing nothing. When you set your mind to learn, you no longer find any joy in surfing the internet for instant gratification. Posts like this are gratifying enough.

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    • Thank you 🙂 I, too, wish people would find other interests than sitting in front of a computer screen. Unfortunately, living in a world where people never leave their homes, nor speak to other live human beings is looking less and less like science fiction.

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  10. Something I remember from when I left college was that I could barely find anything outside of retail, food, and a temp agency. It’s really bad where I am because people want experience or hire from those they know. So, as much as an education helps you, it doesn’t take you as far as it used to. That’s one of the reasons I’m trying for full-time author. I bounced from one temp job to another with the promise of full-time and something always went wrong. Wasn’t even my fault when they simply couldn’t hire me or they never planned it in the first place. I think a lot of young people give up in the face of this because they grew up with the promise that it didn’t work this way. Personally, I think internships should be mandatory in college to get them experience and contacts. Maybe even give companies something if they hire kids right out of college. Otherwise, they have to wait in jobs outside their field or in unemployment until the older generation retires.

    As for the internet, I agree that the instant gratification is a problem. So is the ability to post and comment without consequences. A flame war on the internet is thrilling to some of these people, so they take it to the outside world. It isn’t entertaining to deal with someone who argues like a stubborn mule and uses internet insults. I really want to slap people that say ‘LOL’ in conversation.

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    • At least you were out trying to find a job. The younger generation’s version of job search is to sit at a computer and, between games, fill out online applications – which is fine – except it’s the people who actually get off their asses and follow up at the places they hope to get jobs who get them.
      Are you serious? People actually say “LOL”? Hahaha!

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      • My wife does that and sends follow up emails. A lot of places won’t deal with walk-ins or unsolicited phone calls, so internet is the way to go. I do agree that a lot of younger people don’t push like they should, but I think it’s less about the internet and more a feeling of hopelessness. I remember talking to a lot of college age temps and even the most positive of them had a sense of ‘what’s the point?’ There’s a real atmosphere of not being given a chance around my area. It’s sad really.

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        • The statistics in Canada show that by the time kids are out of university (25 and over) they are getting jobs. What I’m posting about is what I see – a lack of enthusiasm caused more by laziness and the sense of “why bother if I’m being taken care of anyway,” than lack of opportunity. I see what you’re saying, and I understand that things are more difficult in the U.S. right now. Perhaps it’s my exposure to so many teens that gives me this grim perspective. 😛

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