With an easy accessibility to the Internet at school and home, the number of children surfing websites is growing rapidly day by day. But what exactly do the children surf the sites for? Parents and teachers must want to know the answer to this question. The answer is that rather than using the Net as a primary educational tool for gathering useful information, for most children, it is just a means of communication and entertainment.
Citing a recent study conducted by comScore Media Metrix, an Internet research company which says that 51 per cent of the Net users in our country are into social networking, Deep Malhotra, Director, Sales & Business Development for MySpace India, says, “A large percentage of the Internet population falls under the young age group. Social networking sites give the youth a chance to freely express themselves and reach out to a global audience. There has been a momentous increase by dramatically altering the state of relationships in this ever-busy world by being in constant touch.”
Many of the young kids seem to be validating Malhotra’s opinion as they increasingly use the Internet for chatting, social networking, downloading, music and videos, playing online games and many other recreational purposes. “Internet is all fun. You can download songs, movies, listen to radio, play online games of your interest and what not,” said a class XI student on the condition of anonymity. He added that social networking involved a lot of creative features like a photo album, interesting events and quizzes etc. “There are various groups and communities on these sites which give me an option to find like-minded people,” he said.
The usage of Internet by the youngsters, however, varies from child to child and depends on their individual socio-economic condition. While most of them like to use it for fun, games, mailing, chatting and social networking, there are some who use it primarily for educational purposes and think that it enhances their knowledge.
For most of the Gen-Y kids, social networking seems to be a major attraction on the Internet. “There are many social networking sites popular among my friends. It’s really good to communicate with your kith and kin and engage in various group activities,” says Nancy Juneja, a teenager from the capital. Though Nancy admits to have heard about some online educational websites and thinks that they are useful, she is yet to try her hands on them.
On the usage pattern, Malhotra, however, remarked, “The rise of the Internet content has been spread over the worldwide web has led to a decline in sales of encyclopedia’s worldwide. It’s an observation that students are leaning heavily on the Internet to assist them in their schoolwork.
However, in the recent years within this age group Internet has become a popular medium for communication and entertainment. In a nutshell this age group spends more time seeking entertainment value over information on the Internet.”
However, students like Anchal Malhotra use the Internet more for educational purposes. Anchal, a class VIII student from St Francis de Sales, Janakpuri, who loves to read fiction in her leisure time, said, “The Internet always comes handy to gather study related information. I have gathered huge study material for my Olympiad. At least it’s better than watching the ‘Idiot Box’.” Sumita Pandey, another student from a Kendriya Vidyalaya branch in the Capital said, “It’s always good to exploit the unlimited source of information. The Internet is vast and it can be used in many ways. I use it both for communication and entertainment, but never in excess.”