In spite of all the ways television and the Internet have enriched the lives of both young and old, living with these two sources of entertainment and information has its disadvantages. Along with providing perpetual distraction, television and the Internet have several notable drawbacks.
Those who use the Internet for research should be aware of the abundance of inaccurate information on the Web. There is no filter for fiction online, and a website can, in theory, publish anything, true or false, about a subject. Even a popular reference site like Wikipedia is fallible. Created through multiple user contributions, Wikipedia can reflect an individual user's biases or inaccurate information. Another reason the Web can be unreliable is that the quick proliferation of information on the Internet leads to the spread of rumors. Websites have incorrectly reported the demise of companies, the death of actors, and the dissolution of celebrity marriages, the "news" of which spreads like wildfire on social networks and sometimes even respected news sites.
Safety and Reputation
In the last decade, Internet use has proven to be potentially dangerous for children. Internet predators have used chat rooms, classified ads, and social networks to find and take advantage of younger Web users or even harm them. Young people have used social networks like MySpace and Facebook to post inappropriate photos and information about themselves. These contributions can leak to future employers, limiting opportunities, or damage the user's reputation.
Forms of Internet and television addiction have been diagnosed in users of all ages. On the Internet, users can become addicted to gaming sites, social sites like Facebook and MySpace, or simply the vast amount of information available to them. According to a Nielsen study, the average television viewer watches 4 and a half hours a day. Viewers can become addicted to the visual stimulation television offers, leading to less social interaction and the inability to form relationships. When a student is addicted to both the Internet and the television, it may impact his development socially, mentally, and physically.
According to a 2001 report by the Alabama Cooperative Extension system, a child who watches too much television may experience attention problems, difficulties with language and reading comprehension, and growth problems. Dr. Ellen Abell, a child development and family specialist, believes that long periods of television use may lead to a lack of development in the prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain necessary for planning, self-control, moral judgment, organizing, and attention. To counter these problems, parents can monitor the family's Internet and television use to ensure children receive a balance of the real and digital worlds, especially during important developmental years.