The advent of the internet was one of the greatest technological advances that have stirred great debate and fascination in the history of the Information Revolution. Its ability to bring everything close enough to a click away has surprised the ordinary people. And its ability to sabotage the power of the state, organizations and other parties to control information has been really a true challenge to those who have enjoyed real power and influence as regarding to the production and distribution of information.
Since its deployment, the internet has completely transformed the way humans communicate both in terms of content and context. It has shaped human activities overwhelmingly by making communication faster, better and shorter in quite many aspects. It has enabled people to bank right from their bedroom half way around the world instantly, conduct meetings from their home in other town, learn right in their house and chat with people seven thousand miles away instantly.
Yet no single technological innovation has ever generated a hot controversy over its positive and negative moral effects as the internet does. By making communication easy, the internet has helped people bypass traditional authorities on communication. By enabling people to take and give what ever information they need with out fearing scrutiny or remote control, internet has practically dwarfed the ability of the state, parents and other parties which might have interest in controlling the source and flow of information.
By making every one editor and sensor of himself, the internet has virtually undermined the mainstream information system. The relatively uncontrolled platform this digital galaxy has created naturally needs some experience and maturity to navigate safely. And this has raised a hot debate on the eligibility of some sections of society in using the internet. One such group are teens and children.
The proponents of the idea that the internet might have unnecessary negative effect on the specific age groups put forward lack of experience as a point of argument, without making the necessary differentiation between teens and children. They argue that, taking in to account the fact that the internet contains vast information which needs experience and talent to use it and the inability of both teens and children to weight the significance of the information they need and the damage that dangerous sources could make, they should be regulated on accessing the net and some go further and advise on the total prohibition of children and teenagers from using it.
Fairly speaking, the internet demands some qualities to be utilized effectively. Even adults have problems using it wisely. However, its significance outweighs its side effects enormously. The internet has proved to be a huge data base of knowledge with enormous sources of information. People are now able to take lessons right in their living room with the help of e-learning. They can refer what ever they want from their laptops with out wasting time visiting libraries. It also stores and provides massive material for the two age groups under discussion. Can we stop for a moment and think how it feels to forbid teenagers and children from this bliss?
These days people consult the web for the sake of optimizing time and resources. And I can not understand any reason why children shouldn’t access the internet. Teens and children like everybody in society need to learn, communicate, and get informed. In other words they need to save time, space and recourses too. May be they may ask some time and attention of their adult custodians to guide them on how to make the best out of the digital abundance. But that is a duty and responsibility of every caring parent.
Sure enough, the internet has proved to be harmful in some aspects like wasting time on useless information, displaying unethical materials and of course obsession. But those problems can be addressed by giving the right guidance and information to the children, hence not sound enough as reasons to prohibit children from accessing the internet. Getting the right information, children could make the best out of the internet.
It is sad that groups and individuals with anti-societal agendas are making the best of the internet to promote their renegade interests. Notable of such examples are the fundamentalist organizations active in the Middle East who have made an efficient use of the digital resources to recruit people in to radicalism. But this too can lead in to thinking about the need to regulate the internet in a way that will not give unbounded power to any specific groups, corporation or governments and lead to a practical solutions as it does now. May be the best solution might come from those who have the chance to browse the internet beginning in their childhood.
By: Ra’i Tesfai
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