Part I

PART I “Welcome online!”. These are often the first words many teenagers hear when they come back home from school. For the past few years, the “Internet’s distractions to teenagers” has been a major social problem, and I have read many articles on students who are “addicted” to the Internet. Also, I have seen many people get involved in “surfing on the net”, and have seen their systematic lives deteriorate with their access to the Internet. This social issue has become even more serious as the great strides in technological advancements entice teenagers with newer temptations.

Because of all the attention given to this issue, I have decided to research it and learn more about how the Internet distracts teenagers, and its effects on society. I already know that most teenagers have some sort of access to the Internet. I have always thought that the Internet is only a source of information and sometimes a source of entertainment, but after reading the frequent articles that show up on the newspapers about the usage of internet, I now know that most teenagers go online mainly to play games and to “chat” with other friends. I also personally know some people who claim that they are “stuck” in the “net”, and I have also recently discovered that today’s teenagers, like myself, spend the most time “surfing on the net” instead of reading books or watching television. However, I know that there are many more causes of teenagers’ bondings with the Internet, and I hope to find out exactly what makes teenagers to become so dependent on it.

PART II The question of the Internet being a distraction to teenagers is such a broad issue, in the sense that the internet has too many ways of distracting teenagers. I will, therefore, focus on two specific questions to learn about. First, I will find out what features on the Internet lure teenagers into it. For example, I know there are “chatrooms” which anyone can enter to talk to other people from all over the world. Secondly, I hope to find out how this attraction to the Internet can affect one’s life so much as to get them “addicted” to it, and how it changes people’s daily lives.

PART III In the Preliminary stages of my research, I discovered that it would be much different from those I have done in the past because the base of my search would not be encyclopedias or books. Although I knew that the library would produce little information on the subject I am researching on, I could not stop questioning the credibility of the sources from the Internet, and first went to the school library in the end of December. Entertainment on the Internet being a quite recent social topic, my first look into the books at the library was fruitless. Even after looking through the magazines that were available, I only found a minimal amount of information. My next and final reaction was to look into the Internet. The week after my first attempt of gathering information, I went to a web site with a variety of search engines and typed in the words “Internet entertainment”.

The results were overwhelming at first. Over a hundred thousand web sites were found on the topic “Internet entertainment”, but I soon discovered that they all led to web sites that hosted “Internet entertainment”. This was when I noticed that I needed to go to a search site of newspaper and magazine articles. Then I went to the school library and went to a search engine site that was called SIRS. When I typed in the same words as before, I only got two articles. From the two, only one carried the information I was seeking for, and so I had to search in other sites such as PROQUEST DIRECT, TIME magazine search, NY TIMES and SCMP search.

Even after going to the biggest search sites on the Internet, I was only able to find four written sources and was frustrated because I knew that there are a lot more articles dealing with the types of entertainment found on the Internet. However, it was after the end of my search for written sources when I realized that I should have searched for “Internet psychology” or “chatting addiction”. My next objective was to get at least three first-hand sources. These were to be an interview with a psychologist, an Internet addict, and a survey in four of my classes. I was reading an article on Y2K (year 2000) in the TIME magazine site when I noticed a banner that led to a chatroom.

The chatroom allowed me to talk to a psychologist who had been researching on Internet addiction. I felt fortunate in this finding and eagerly went to the chatroom and interviewed the lady on some of the effects of Internet addiction. My interview with an Internet addict followed soon after. In one corner of the chatroom, I saw a link to another chatroom where I could talk to an Internet addict. Again, I questioned the source’s credibility, but it was a site hosted by TIME magazine so I went into it to get my second interview. During the interview, I felt insulted when he frequently ignored me and answered other people’s questions instead.

After getting all of the sources I needed, I was reluctant in doing my survey because I felt that I was so far ahead of my classmates and friends. There were also mid-term exams when I was planning to have the survey given out, so I had to wait. Right after the exams were over, I gave out my survey to the students in my English, Physics, German classes and fencing team. The responses I got back were as I expected. I had to filter out those that were irrelevant and jocular, but most students gave honest responses as well as lengthy opinions, so I was satisfied with the results of my survey.

With the completion of all my research, I had accumulated much information that was all very important for part four of my I-search. PART IV Today, the problem of “Internet distractions to teenagers” is a worldwide social issue. It is also the most feared social problem in the US, as the number of households in the US with Internet connection is rapidly growing with an estimated 30% increase (from 1998) by the year 2000 (Bluestein). The problem started in 1995, at the peak of the World Wide Web boom, when people started seeking for sources of entertainment on the Internet. Since then, the climax of attention on the subject has been subdued until in 1998, when a series of surveys and researches indicated that these new sources of entertainment were ruining teenagers’ lives by getting them addicted to the games and web sites (Stuller).

Now four years since the beginning of the boom, entertainment-based web sites are still multiplying in number, and perhaps will never stop growing. There are too many types of entertainment on the Internet to even pinpoint a couple. However, they are grouped into games, music, chatrooms, and pornography. From a recent survey, it was shown that of the five million teenagers who regularly access the Internet, a large number (26%) of them frequently visit music-related sites, and that 18% of them play more games on the Internet than in 1997. These figures show that some of the most popular entertainment sites are those about music and games. Another survey showed that as well as listening to music and playing games, Internet chatting is also popular.

This was shown when 49% of one thousand high school students surveyed said that their main purpose of going online is to “chat” with other teenagers around the world (Bluestein). With the great technological advancements, game companies now make games that can be played over the Internet. The most popular of these are war and combat games, where people from all over the world meet each other at a host server and try to kill the others before they get killed themselves. Many people who become involved in these games spend up to five hours every day playing the same game on the Internet, and it is never a problem when they become bored of the game because there are always thousands of games that are available for download on the Internet (Young). Also, in a survey of 75 Ramapo high school students, 41 students replied that they spend the most time online playing games, which clarifies that Internet games are the most popular of the types of Internet entertainment. The reason why people become so attached to these Internet games is because they are now playing against real people, instead of machines, which makes the game more realistic as they get different reactions from different players.

It is not only teenagers who have been hit hard by the effects of the creation of mus …