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Children and the Internet: Advantages and Disadvantages

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  • 0:00 Information Age
  • 0:31 Cell Phones & Social Media
  • 3:01 Access to Info &…
  • 4:39 Disadvantage Takeaways
  • 5:21 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jennifer Carnevale

Jennifer has a dual master's in English literature/teaching and is currently a high school English teacher. She teaches college classes on the side.

Kids these days. All they seem to do is play on their cell phones, but isn't technology supposed to be a helpful tool? In this lesson, we'll analyze the advantages and disadvantages of children using the Internet in the classroom.

Information Age

Many people believe that the Internet may lead humans to become less, not more, intelligent. Do you agree? Isn't having unlimited knowledge at your fingertips an asset? While we may instinctively say yes, as educators we see both the positive and negative aspects of the Internet in our classrooms on a daily basis.

Let's take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of the Internet and see how teachers can incorporate its positive use into students' lives.

Cell Phones & Social Media

Let's begin with some disadvantages of cell phones and social media, starting with cyberbullying, or using electronic devices to embarrass, harass, intimidate, or threaten other people. Kids today are growing up in a world where having a cell phone is akin to eating to survive, but easy access to the Internet has caused some hard-to-solve problems. For example, the use of social media has led to an increase in cyberbullying. The Internet gives children a device to hide behind, which can cause problems in and out of the classroom. And while bullying itself is difficult to stop, invisible bullies make it even more difficult to identify.

Another disadvantage of cell phones and social media is that they give children a false sense of security. Kids of all ages thrive on social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter. However, these apps also draw kids away from reality and into a world where they may feel they can say or do anything without consequences. For instance, a student who posts an image of himself drinking alcohol may be dismissed from his sports team.

Finally, there are the problems inherent to our distraction nation. As educators, we fight this battle every day. How many times have you caught your students checking social media during lectures or texting when they're supposed to be writing? Some students have even become violent when their phones are confiscated. While a convenience, cell phones in the classroom can distract students from the task at hand and draw them into a false sense of reality.

There are, however, some advantages to the use of cell phones and social media. While cell phones can be a nuisance in the classroom, they can also be time savers. For instance, it's much easier and faster to have students use their phones to look up information and vocabulary words online, rather than in a book and/or a dictionary, especially in the middle of a teachable moment.

One advantage of social media, like Facebook and Twitter, is that they can lead to innovative classroom projects, such as those related to character analysis and historical figure profiles, to name a few. Allowing students to use social media tools helps you meet kids where they are and provides them with a way to express their ideas through a medium that is comfortable and accessible for any device with an Internet connection.

Internet access in the classroom also gives teachers the chance to provide students with extra help, such as playing audiobooks and videos to reinforce information, especially for those students with learning disabilities.

Access to Info & Instant Knowledge

Easy access to information and instant knowledge is also associated with some advantages and disadvantages. For instance, this access can promote an unfortunate 'gimme now' attitude among students. Younger generations are used to instant gratification that comes with the ability to order fast food, movies, television shows, and other items, just by tapping the keys of their smart phones. So when it comes to accessing information, most students believe the Internet has all the answers. They also believe these answers should be no more than the length of a tweet. When it comes to research, students type a question into the search bar, hit enter, and read the first link that appears, never questioning the credibility of the site or the information provided, which can lead to misinformation or even plagiarism.

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