Can Internet Overuse Create Aggressive Teenagers?

It seems like every other day in the news there is another story of teen aggression and violence. Events such as shootings in schools and shopping malls, cyber bullying that leads to suicide of the victim and parental abuse are just a few of the aggressive incidents that have made recent headlines. Violent television and video games have been the prime suspects; however, recent studies show that there may be some connection between the internet and teen aggressive behavior.

How Teenagers use the Internet

The internet is a vehicle for teenagers to use for many of their daily activities including homework, research and social networking. When used constructively, the internet offers teens a vast network of knowledge resources from which to learn and experience visual and cognitive growth.

According to a report by the Pew Internet Project, 93% of 12-29 year olds access the internet regularly; with teenagers and young adults cited as more likely to go online than older adults. Business Insider reports on another Pew Poll, along with the American Life Project, that indicates how twenty-three percent of teenagers are accessing online resources via their cell phones. Because approximately seventy-eight percent of teens are estimated to have a cell phone, and half of that number have a Smartphone, this adds up to quite a lot of internet usage time.

Usage and Monitoring

Spending too much time online, however, can lead to addictive behaviors, similar to those found in pathological gamblers. Not only is how much time a possible problem for teenagers, it is the quality of the material to which they are exposed that makes a difference. Along with the tremendous advantage the internet provides in terms of educational resources, it also has a dark, seedy, underside that teens should not access. Sites that include violent acts, pornography, animal and human abuse and numerous other sources of inappropriate and disturbing material that may lead to aggressive behavior in teens are available just as easily.

Conclusion

The bottom line is that there is some evidence that using the internet in the wrong way might contribute to aggressive behavior in teenagers, so the most important thing parents can do is to monitor their child’s internet use. Try keeping the computer in a common area of the home, limiting internet time and monitoring websites to ensure the safety of your teens.