A study on the internet use habits of schoolchildren has brought to light worrying evidence that the world’s youngsters are spiraling into an era of full-blown web-addiction that could pose a serious threat to their health and development.
Nearly half of all kids aged between 14 and 15 years admit being to some extent addicted to the internet. What’s more, no less than a quarter take at least one internet-connected device to bed with them in the evening, in order to ensure they’re within arm’s-reach of the web on a 24/7 basis.
That’s according to a new study carried out by the Carphone Warehouse and a number of other authorities, all of whom were working on behalf of the Tablets for Schools initiative. The rather shocking results of the survey indicated that 40% of girls are compulsively using the internet for socializing, with an alarming proportion refusing to go even a minute of the day without having their mobile devices to hand.
Those behind the study have since published safe-use guidelines insisting that a specific and limited amount of time should be allocated for internet use where kids are involved.
While 36% of boys polled admitted they were addicted to the internet, a full 46% of girls said the same. But while girls were found to be much more drawn to socializing online, boys were more likely to use the internet for gaming.
The most worrying age group of all was that of the 14 to 15-year-olds, where a full 49% of those polled feared they were addicted. One year up, no less than 77% of respondents admitted taking their mobile devices to bed with little to no intention of using them for homework purposes.
According to the researchers, many of the children polled were adamant that the internet is an important tool for their education, but at the same time a worrying proportion expressed genuine concern for their own addictive habits.
“It’s the first thing I look at in the morning and the last thing at night. It seems I’m constantly on it,” wrote one student aged 10.
“When I’m on YouTube one video leads to another and I cannot stop myself from watching loads of videos and sometimes I’m up till about 2 o’clock in the morning just because I’ve been watching YouTube videos,” answered another older student.
Authorities are now calling for a more proactive approach to internet monitoring and safe-practice use where all youngsters are involved.