There is significant concern over the effects of the internet on teenagers, especially regarding the use social networking websites. Because they are the first generation that will have been raised on the internet, as well as in their standard physical world, it will still be several years before further observations and research can be done on the effects this has on adolescents and their behaviors.
While some studies have found face-to-face communication is still the most prominent way for information to flow through the network, interactions through communication media (e-mail, instant messaging, text messaging, mobile phone, and landline phone), supplement this flow of information in a substantive way. Communication media use patterns are able to be characterized by multiplexity and can be placed on a unidimensional scale, indicating a media hierarchy.
It has also been hypothesized that unmonitored Internet use may place adolescents’ at significant risk, such as cyberbullying, unwanted exposure to pornography, and potentially revealing personal information to sexual predators.
Many hopes exist regarding the opportunities that the internet can offer to young people as well as fears about the risks it may bring. With regards to access, the digital divide is clearly seen through such indicators such as age, socioeconomic status, use of online opportunities, and gender. However, an unexpected positive relationship between online opportunities and risks was found, with implications for policy interventions aimed at reducing the risks of internet use for teenagers.