The Internet has proven to be a double-edged sword for education. Teachers and students benefit from the unprecedented access to information the Internet provides, as well as from the ability to share knowledge across the globe. However, reliance on the Internet also has many negative effects. Educators must be aware of the dangers the Internet poses so they can avoid potential pitfalls.
Children growing up in the Internet age expect instant gratification. They can easily get online and find anything they want, from their favorite TV shows and music videos to troublesome homework answers. The Internet means no waiting and instant results with minimal effort. These traits don't translate to the classroom, where teachers expect students to work for their grades. As a result, students are often unable to work through problems. They also fail to manage their time efficiently.
Everything about the Internet is fast. Web sites streamline information and deliver it in quick bursts, making it easy to digest and understand. Even popular video clips seldom last longer than a minute or two, ensuring visitors don't get bored and explore the competition that's only a mouse-click away. This constant supply of available entertainment has reduced the average attention span. Students may struggle to follow in-depth discussions or to stay focused throughout a normal classroom period, making it more difficult for teachers to work through their lesson plans.
The Internet archives the world's knowledge. Students can find essays or test answers for any subject imaginable. Knowing that the correct answers are readily available online can prove far too tempting for some students, which leads to academic fraud, plagiarism, and rampant cheating. Educators have taken steps to counter such practices. They have developed sites that check essays and research papers against published content to detect pilfered material. Determined students may attempt to circumvent such safeguards by using social media and message boards to share class information. This contributes to culture of cheating that didn't exist on such a scale before the Internet.
A full education enhances the mind and body. Hours spent surfing the Internet, playing online games, and engaging on social networks can drastically hinder a child's physical development. Such technological distractions place an even greater emphasis on the need for regular exercise and physical activity. Schools unable or unwilling to provide a physical education component run the risk of contributing to their students' sedentary lifestyle.
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