The Internet and
The reading habits of most young people have changed significantly over the last decade.
This has proven to be both good and bad.
The positive aspect is that the Internet generation is spending much more time reading and writing.
However, most Internet reading is not like reading a novel or textbook, and Internet writing tends to be unorganized and littered with writing errors.
The Internet's Impact On Reading
Reading scores on standardized tests have declined or stagnated in the last decade.
Many educators point out that the Internet represents a new kind of reading skill, one that is not reflected in most standardized tests. These exams test for sustained, concentrated reading more appropriate to reading a novel rather than text messages.
Because educators in some countries see the importance of digital skills, some (the United States excluded at this point) are now testing for "digital-age proficiently."
This involves testing student's ability to find, synthesize and especially evaluate Internet information.
What the Research Shows
It has been shown that young people who read so-called long-form material for enjoyment --
Separating Fact from Fiction
It appears that young people who rely on the Internet for information have a more difficult time separating fact from fiction.
Donald J. Leu, who researches literacy and technology at the University of Connecticut, asked 48 students to go to a bogus web site about a mythical species known as the "Pacific Northwest tree octopus."
Although the account went beyond the bounds of plausibility, nearly 90 percent of those who read the account later deemed the information reliable.
We know that many Internet sites provide biased, if not clearly inaccurate, information.
For example, more than one study has shown that viewers of Fox News, a popular cable source of news for a great many people, end up being ill-informed, or simply not informed, about key issues of the day.
Given the influence of this agenda-based information, it's easy to see why it promotes prejudice, anger, and even social and political conflict.
This seems to be borne out by the fact that there has been a recent spike in hate group activity in the United States.
According to the Washington Post, The number of such groups spiked
14 percent in 2015, "a year characterized by levels of polarization
and anger perhaps unmatched since the political turmoil of 1968...."
And then there is cyber bullying, which is also related to incestuous amplification, which we discuss elsewhere.
Some Internet sites such as MyYearbook.com warn readers about cyber bulling. The case of Megan is cited, a young woman who was driven to take her own life after people persisted in publishing demeaning things about her on a social network.
Although afterwards those responsible may claim, "it was just a joke," unless they are rather calloused and unfeeling individuals, they can face a lifetime of guilt as a result of their acts.
Keep in mind, we generally don't know anything about the personal, internal struggles that an individual may initially be struggling with.
Unfortunately, the case of Megan is not unique.
A large percentage of youth admit to sexting, which is part of bullying. Given the prevailing and possibly antiquated attitudes about sex and nudity, sexting can have disastrous consequences.
Once something goes on-line, it can remain indefinitely in cyberspace -- possibly following people for the rest of their lives.
Bullying also appears to have been a factor behind the gun-related school massacres.
This video shows just one example of the effects of bullying.
In summary, if you know of incidents of hurtful bullying -- either on the Internet or elsewhere -- someone in authority should be informed. If it isn't taken seriously, make a note of when you do so you can refer back to it.
You can also check out the links below.