Teenagers are considered as the largest Internet users. In fact, in a study commissioned by the Pew Research Center, it revealed that “24% of teens go online ‘almost constantly,’ facilitated by the widespread availability of smartphones.” Teens aged 13 to 17 connect to the Internet several times daily, and about a quarter of them own smartphones, tablets, laptops, gaming consoles, and desktop computers. Being online 24/7 is part of the teen culture and most teens can’t live without the Internet.

As technology and the Internet continue to evolve in the Digital Age, internet safety advocates are fearful of their negative impacts. Excessive use of the internet and online sexual harassment are just some of the risks parents want to protect their kids in the digital age. However, the Internet also has its positive impacts, such as access to different online learning environments and peer-to-peer support from other students worldwide.

Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of the Internet in the Digital Age.

Entertainment 24/7

Teens also need to take a break from their school work and daily family chores. Just like adults, they also enjoy going online for entertainment. Most teens search for the latest music, online movies, TV shows or read e-books. The Internet is an amusement park that’s open 24/7.

It’s easier to share information

Sharing files and information is now seamless, thanks to technology. Teens can catch up on the latest news and announcements from their schools or organizations. Social media platforms such as Facebook allows them to post these as their status messages or relay them via instant messaging (IM). Project collaborations or group activities can also be shared online. Information is easier to share in real time.

Help promote healthier lifestyle choices

The Internet can be an essential tool in promoting healthier lifestyle choices. Teens using tobacco is a major concern for parents. In a fact sheet published by TobaccoFreeKids.org: 31 percent of twelfth-grade students have smoked a cigarette before the age of 13. The majority of teens who try to quit before leaving high school failed. This the Center for Innovative Public Health Research (CiPHR) utilized technology to help young adults stop smoking. Based on Dr. Anthony Rodgers’ pioneering smoking cessation program, CiPHR sends text messages which use cognitive behavioral therapy-based messages. Since most teens have smartphones, it easier to reach a wider audience. Aside from text messaging, instant messaging platforms can also be used to encourage teens to quit smoking and live a healthier lifestyle.

Internet addiction

Internet addiction is one of the disadvantages of the Internet. Teens tend to spend more time online which affects both their emotional and physical growth. Most of them are prone to develop heart disease and become overweight due to lack of exercise. In some cases, their digital immersion affects their relationships in real life. Parental intervention is needed to help teens overcome this type of addiction.

Growing up isolated from the real world

Social networks and online games have become surrogates for face-to-face interactions. It’s easier for teens to create an online persona and express themselves with their online peers. Teens are more comfortable with online social interaction than real-world interactions. Once a teen becomes accustomed to online interactions, he or she might have problems socializing in real life. Social skills are important as they can help them build relationships or land a good job after earning their degree. Growing up isolated from the real world will affect their future.

Exposure to malicious software and identity theft

Malicious programs were designed to either cause harm or retrieve valuable data from a computer of mobile device. Most hackers create viruses to get personal information such as social media passwords, credit card and bank details, and other valuable information which they can use or earn money from. These programs could also lead to identity theft and online harassment. Since most of these viruses come from the Internet, MomSecure’s cyber agents can help parents filter their teens’ online content or block suspicious apps to protect them from these types of security threats.

The Internet definitely has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. It’s up to us parents to remind them about its positives and negatives. The Internet in the Digital Age will continue to evolve and smart parenting is key in protecting our children’s innocence.