Recently there was a study showing that the interest in the Internet passes need to eat and sleep.
Internet access is a habit of modern societies, but for some has become a necessity that goes beyond other, more natural, like eating and sleeping and is matched to sex. In the specific case we are talking about many of the 3,000 respondents, of legal age, who participated in a study conducted in the UK by TP-Link, a provider of broadband solutions, where some conclusions in this direction.
Half of the participants, men and women between 18 and 55, refer to devote more time to the Internet than to sleep. Divided by gender, 42% of men consider even browsing online is more important than eating or having shelter, being comparable only to sex. Among the benefits received, 51% of respondents say the Internet has helped to strengthen the friendships maintained and a quarter reported that improves the sense of "belonging". For all this, 82% say they feel frustrated and angry every time you access the Internet fails.
These news can be seen interesting as some people say it goes against rationality, i.e. the need of fulfilling "physiological" needs first as those needs are more important than the need for sense of "belonging" - hierarchy of needs is famously described in the Maslow pyramid:
... this is when the study starts to reveal strange patterns. I believe that everyone is able to understand that for someone to exist the physiological necessities need to be fulfilled... what seems that TP-Link study is showing is that people are now sleeping less and putting less importance in "meal time" so that more time is spend online. I would find rather strange if this study would have the same result if the respondents actually faced hunger (e.g. conducting the study in the Somalia).
What this shows is that the necessity of sense of belonging is linked with the new(?) social aspect of the Internet, where having many online friends give a comfortable and positive psychological feeling. However, another curious result, is that only 7% of respondents believe that online browsing brought improvements to your love life... so there is a sense of necessity which is not directly correlated with happiness.
These studies are particular relevant for parents, as there is the need to educate the more susceptible, i.e. children and teenagers.
What Parents Need To Know About Internet Usage
- Invasion of Privacy - children have the right not to give out private information to anyone, including reputable companies, for any reason without the expressed permission of their parents. This information includes, but is not limited to name, email, address, age, and school they attend.
- Exposure to Inappropriate Material - The Internet is a vast information resource... of all types of information. Sites that contain explicit sexual, violent, and hateful information can be found with little and sometimes no effort. There are also sites on how to build bombs, make designer drugs, etc.
- Being Harassed - Chat rooms and message boards are chuck full of people who are just plain nasty. This can hurt a teenagers self esteem. Also, there are those on the net that will harass in email.
- Financial - children with access to a credit card can do major damage to their credit, or yours. You should not allow any purchases for anything on the Internet without your permission. Then it should only be done on a secure server and NEVER through email.
- Spending too much time - as mentioned in this post, there is a risk that children are spending too much time online. While it is important for them to feel social and to interact with their friends online it is important to explain that the internet can no be seen as an escape of the "world outside", i.e. school, physical activities, etc...
Know What To Do:
- Obtain Safe Surfing Programs - There are many out there. Suggestion: Family Internet Guide at About.com.
- It's Okay to Keep Secrets - Let them know it is ok not to tell things to people online. Teach them to protect their privacy, that things aren't always what they seem.
- Have an Internet Contract - Make a behavior contract with them, including how much time to be spend. This will enable them to know what you expect of their behavior while online.
- Obtain a Free Email Account - Do not allow them to use your ISP email account for message boards, chat, or anything really. Obtain a free email account for them. These types of accounts keep the SPAM level down and do not point out where you live.
- Report Sexual Exploitation - If someone sends you messages or images that are obscene, lewd, filthy, or indecent with the intent to harass, abuse, annoy, or threaten you, report it to your Internet service provider.
- Use Family Filters on the Search Engines - Many companies on the internet, especially the search engines, are getting into the swing of online safety for our kids. Check out your favorite search engines filtering capabilities before your teen uses it.
Eventually, if everything is going well you should diminish your rules an provide more freedom to your children as it is important (and a part of the learning process) to let them make their own choices and learn from their own mistakes.
Adapted from: http://uk.tp-link.com/, http://parentingteens.about.com/cs/sitesforteens/a/internetusage.htm, http://tek.sapo.pt/noticias/internet/interesse_pela_internet_passa_necessidade_de_1322810.html
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