Our subject, Jimmy, has been using the internet for the past four years. He got started at a friend's house -- they were young, bored, and out of money. Jimmy was once an arcade jockey, spending long hours in noisy recreational facilities.
"Jump, man! That barrel's rolling straight at you!" his best friend would shout.
"I am jumping!"
But alas, he would fall to a gruesome death, his on-screen representation a mess of pixels, half smashed into the ground.
They would go home, pockets empty, hearts broken, returning once more to the quiet comfort of their own homes. Jimmy knew a little about the strange box his parents called the computer -- he knew how to start it, how to load Minesweeper, and how to press the CTRL, ALT, and DELETE buttons simultaneously.
But somehow, Jimmy lost interest in the arcade. He lost interest in a lot of things, including, but not limited to healthy eating, kickball, homework, and recreational reading. In short, he was becoming a teenager.
He began spending more and more time at friend's houses or the school, sitting, waiting for the next screen to load. It was a drug, of sorts. It didn't give him lung cancer, though, and that's all his parents cared about.
Jimmy is not an unusual case. He spends three to four hours on the computer every night, chatting with friends from school or reading about the latest game from iD.
The internet has become a major part of society. What effects does it have on our youth today? To fully examine these, one must look at what the internet has become to society.
Only on the internet can you easily access recipes, your stock reports, bank statements, time-passing games, clothing stores, book summaries, movie ratings, as well as nearly anything else you can imagine. It is the easy access point. Mom can use it to check up on Jimmy's falling grades, Dad can use it to make sure his job is secure (it isn't,) and Jimmy can use it to talk to friends. Is there anything better?
The internet has helped to usher in a generation of young people who are used to having what they want ON-DEMAND. Now, mind you, it wasn't just the internet doing this -- you can also attribute parts of this to the increasing numbers of satellite dishes and microwaves.
However, not all of the effects of the internet are negative. Sure, we may have created a generation of lazy, demanding people, but we also created a generation of easily educatable people, as well. Never before has learning a new language, discovering the magic of the Constitution, or examining the filming techniques of television from a directors standpoint been more easily accessible. By giving young people an easier venue to access things that they are interested in, we can innovate more easily.
In conclusion, is the internet bad? Not necessarily. It's not necessarily good, either. Overall, it is important to recognize both the positive and negative aspects of such a wondrous invention. The internet has created a world of good, a world of bad, and several worlds in between.
As Mark Twain once said, "Explore. Dream. Discover."