Is Internet Distraction A Good Thing Or A Bad Thing For Kids?

from the talk-to-some-kids dept

It's pretty obvious by now that there are tons of distractions that can be found on the internet, and if you're not careful, you can certainly get dragged away from something more important. However, has an article suggesting that because kids these days are growing up with so many internet distractions, they won't be able to accomplish nearly as much as older generations who had no such distractions and could concentrate on just doing stuff. In fact, the author writes: "We're not preparing kids for the future."

Now that strikes me as odd, because my thought was exactly the opposite. These distractions are there -- and since kids these days are growing up with such distractions, they're used to them and take it as a natural state of affairs. In other words, by getting them to think of continuous partial attention as the norm from a very young age, we absolutely are preparing them for the future. Of course, the real answer may lie somewhere in-between -- in that it may depend on just what people are trying to accomplish.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    some old guy, May 29th, 2008 @ 5:12am


    So... by putting adblock and noscript on my kids computers, I am somehow helping them with their concentration so they learn better, and simultaneously destroying their future cause they wont be used to ads, and will be distracted by them?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Greg, May 29th, 2008 @ 5:15am


    I was distracted from work by this story....

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    mat552, May 29th, 2008 @ 5:36am

    just hold on

    At some point, a new form of media will come out and all the controversy will move to that platform. When movies were new, they made kids violent. When tv was new it distracted kids from imporant things. While computers are "new" they cause both.
    It'll pass

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2008 @ 5:39am

    Things work very differently now anyway, sitting at work I have phone, email, people passing my desk, text messages, IM communication etc etc, we need to learn to deal with all that and still get a task done. I think having distractions around at an early age will make you better set to deal with it all!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Ed Rooney, May 29th, 2008 @ 5:44am

    Re: distracted...

    Amen. I work online and often find myself following stories of interest rather than work ...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Crazy Coyote, May 29th, 2008 @ 5:46am

    When I went to school mini skirts were in style. Talk about distraction! Dealing with distractions is part of learning. Isn't that why we send kids to school?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon, May 29th, 2008 @ 5:47am

    Kids & the Internet

    I think tis fine as long as the time is LIMITED. If my teenage Son could, he would sit on the internet socializing day and night taking time off only to eat and use the restroom.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Matt, May 29th, 2008 @ 5:56am

    control is not the issue, education is

    The issue is making sure that the kids know how to handle situations that can come up (stalkers, etc) properly on the web. After that, unleashing them to discover their own creative potential will pay off huge.

    My niece for example, we started her at 5 with chatrooms (the old allakhazam/etc ones with the smileys moving in different rooms), and she proceeded to become a very intelligent geeky girl...obsessed with the harry potter rooms, etc....but did she turn out smart, and still become herself? Hell yes.

    People will be whoever they will be with or without the internet. That predisposition that your personality develops down a path because of how your life has gone will occur with or without the net.

    I'm sure within the parenting, her parents watched the amount of time she was on but for the most part gave her free reign.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Vincent Clement, May 29th, 2008 @ 6:04am

    Kids have always had distractions. Record players. Radios. TV. Friends. Somehow, society has managed to achieve amazing things.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon, May 29th, 2008 @ 6:22am

    There has always been something to distract each generation of kids and adults. While, I will admit that the internet does seem to be a never ending supply of distractions. I do think that working adults get a lot less done, when they have the internet on their work PC. Not everyone, but I think since the internet has been in offices, the overall work has gone down a bit.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    JJ, May 29th, 2008 @ 6:41am

    Kid and the internet

    It's called multi-tasking... any kid who can pull off 5 IM chat windows while in 3 different IRC rooms, posting on a forum board, editing a wiki page, playing a video game, ripping a cd and downloading the new Indiana Jones movie SIMULTANEOUSLY will probably be the first person to push that old geezer working in your company into early retirement. You know the one, the old guy that keeps asking you how to print out each email he receives so he can read it... Not to metion this new 'super-kid-of-the-future' is the entire reason computer companies are making quad-core processors.
    Also, I think that the fact that kids are growing up learning to do all of this in the background while still being able to think through long term problems / strategize / do homework / make important life decisions
    is nothing short of amazing!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    HasDistractedKids, May 29th, 2008 @ 6:52am

    Yep, I'm here to say that IM, RPG, Social networking and youtube can distract kids. Sometimes a lot. But, other non-internet related stuff can distract kids as well. When homework gets long and boring, distractions distract. But, kids get past that as they get older. Sometimes Mom or Dad has to step in and redirect. Nothing new there. The internet isn't going away, so it's our job to make sure they interact with it responsibly, find their real passions and do them as much as possible. And, if the passion is RPG, so be it. My 13-year old son, on his own, just downloaded the MSFT C compiler, recompled source for an RPG, set up a server and a VPN so his friends could play a customized version. Now that's passion!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2008 @ 7:25am


    And a passion that has the potential to make big money in several 'casual' enviroments.

    The decompiling and recompiling I mean. No the playing of RPGs.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    PRMan, May 29th, 2008 @ 7:53am

    When I was a kid...

    My mom took my computer away because I wasn't doing my homework. Now I write software for a living. I think if she knew then what I would end up doing, she would have taken my homework away instead.

    The "distraction" became my career. And it will for many of these kids as well.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2008 @ 7:56am

    never ever changes

    Show me one generation that thinks the next generation is more productive and more intelligent than the current.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    jezsik, May 29th, 2008 @ 8:02am

    Won't get as much done? Nonsense!

    When kids are interesting in something, they can get more information instantly -- no need to waste hours of time researching paper-based media. I put it to you that they'll accomplish a lot more as a result of this "distraction" we call the internet.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Will, May 29th, 2008 @ 8:15am

    Re: distracted...

    I was also distracted from work...their plotting to take over the "older generation" with stories. It's working

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Jake, May 29th, 2008 @ 8:52am

    Re: distracted...

    I was distracted from reading other digg stories by reading this. :)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Joe, May 29th, 2008 @ 10:48am

    distractions are the reality but....

    the question now becomes - is the improved ability to multi-task at the expense of being able to focus on single projects for extended periods of time.

    I think Mike is off on this one. While I don't agree with all items in Elgan's article, I think the general point that to grow beyond average, a person needs the ability to focus. I juggle tasks like everyone else, but when I need to produce - the door closes, email gets turned off and the phone comes off the hook (still waiting for the girlfriend mute button).

    Kids today don't need lessons in multi-tasking. They get that from the ambient environment, they need training in how to better prioritize and filter inputs in order to focus.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2008 @ 11:28am

    Re: Kids & the Internet


    He will take time off for one other thing also. You know.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    Ryan, May 29th, 2008 @ 5:04pm

    I shoulllld be...

    doing my homework right now, but this story distracted me. As previous posters pointed out, its our ability to mulitask that will give us an edge. I work at a retail store and at any given moment I am doing a million things, and I got a raise because of it. There are tons of distractions, but that doesnt change things.

    I would be more worried about the inability of the young generation to work. Many are too spoiled to get off their butts to do anything anyways.

    The son can only be better than the father if the son had a worse life. (not a better one)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    Iron Chef, May 29th, 2008 @ 6:50pm

    Boomers, GenX and GenY

    Tammy Erickson is hosting an enlightening discussion about this at Harvard Business Review. Check it out.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    nattie, Apr 1st, 2009 @ 1:52pm

    Distractions Distract

    Im researching this topic, and I already got distracted about 5 minutes ago by going on facebook. There are stuff on the internet that help me do my homework, and there's stuff that distract me as well. Yes, I need to be able multi-task to get somewhere in life, but I also need to have boundaries. I believe that the internet has pros and cons. It helps, but not all the time. Computers at schools should have internet safety filters, and should be powerful. Parents should put a limit on the time kids spend on the internet at home. That will cause kids to do there research on the internet and with the remaining time, they can do what they want. Adults... time has changed, and new things are being created, which results into change. Balance is what life is all about.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. identicon
    Bob Willy, Dec 9th, 2015 @ 10:43am

    The internet is not for people

    When I first started using the net, I was one of those people who believed it would revolutionize connecting with people. Way before the net, I was an outgoing person, and had alot of friends.

    But after reading nasty blogs written by maniacs, reading crazy talk inside Craigslist adds, I realized that the net is a place where bad people go to vent their anger.

    The net really should be shut down. In terms of what it doesn't offer, people need to relearn the art of meeting people, becoming friends. Spending time with other people .

    The net is not a substitute for the real world. Though I didn't form my ideas from the net, I believe that the net creates excessive alienation.

    The internet is not a winner.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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