The Internet may have its share of derps and trolls, but it also has a great deal of serious information, making it one of the largest educational resources for teenage students. Unfortunately, there are parents who only see its negative side, refusing to hook their home systems online for fear of having their children spend all their time on Facebook or other time-consuming websites rather than do school work.

Although this parental concern is understandable, a recent UK study on says that it is unfounded.

Researchers from the Oxford University’s Department of Education worked with approximately 1000 households and interviewed 200 teenagers and their families from 2008 to 2011. Parents discussed their concerns about the Internet, while children shared how being online or offline affected their school and social lives.

The study shows that not having Internet access at home does more damage than good. Teenagers felt that they were “educationally disadvantaged,” especially since many assignments and projects required them go online. They also felt that they were socially missing out, especially during discussions with their peers about general information and current events.

The Internet is a public place, making it as safe as a park or as dangerous as a dark alley. One solution to parental anxiety is not to generalize it as something evil, but to know which parts are okay and which aren’t. It’s also good to teach teenagers about online privacy and which information is best kept withheld. A tech-savvy adolescent will once in a while trip into the weird parts of YouTube or in the dark alleys of 4Chan--it’s impossible not to--but if he or she is knows the proper thing to do with any given information, then parents need not be too anxious about letting their children explore the world online.

(Photo by Wayne MacPhail via Flickr Creative Commons)

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