YOUTH INTERNET USE: RISKS AND OPPORTUNITIES.
PURPOSE OF REVIEW:
The Internet has become all pervasive in the lives of young people and this paper will review studies that examine the risks and opportunities that it affords. We will examine research that investigates the more negative aspects of youth online behavior such as addiction as well as online risks such as harassment/cyber bullying and sexual solicitation. In addition, positive aspects of Internet use such as its potential for learning and enhancing social relations as well as delivering health interventions will be examined.
The results show that online risks such as addiction, cyber bullying, and sexual solicitation are associated with negative consequences for youth. It is important to note that not all children are equally susceptible and more research is necessary to identify the youth most at risk as well as to develop effective interventions. The Internet can also provide benefits in the areas of cognitive, social, and physical development, and can also be used to deliver treatment interventions.
The Internet represents both risks and opportunities for young people. To protect youth who are at risk for online addiction, bullying, and solicitation, we need more research to understand which youth may be most susceptible and to develop targeted interventions to protect them. The Internet also has many positive aspects and can be used to enhance youth learning and empowerment; although it is a tremendous health resource and can be used to cheaply deliver interventions, we need to understand how to better implement them to enhance their effectiveness.