Internet kids. You know them. If you’re my age (19 years and counting), you’re probably one of them. We’re the generation that grew up on the edge of the tech revolution during the late ‘90s and early 2000s. We grew up with YouTube videos like “Shoes” and “Charlie Bit My Finger.” We remember the early days of Facebook, when aggregated timelines and complex advertisement algorithms weren’t a thing. We’re the early adopters of any and all new technology, and we’re naturally savvy digital media users, adapting to the latest social media crazes with ease.
I’m no exception to the rule. In fact, I’m probably a prime example of an Internet kid. I’ve been blogging since I was 11 years old, when I ran a fansite for a popular book series on wetpaint.com. I made my first Twitter account a year after the media site launched, and I had an Instagram handle mere weeks after its debut in the App Store library. I work at Sojourner Truth Library’s research desk, where I often help people with tech questions. As a digital media and journalism student, technology and the Web are intrinsically linked to my studies and profession. You know what they say: newspapers are a thing of the past, and blogs and digital news sites are where the money’s at.
As the Arts & Entertainment editor at The Oracle, I’m prone to thinking entirely too hard about media and its intersection with society and culture. You could say it’s one of my passions, sure.
Without a doubt, it’s taught me amazing things: my love of blogging instilled in me a passion for producing good content and a drive to do so on the regular. I know more about WordPress blogging software and programs like Adobe Photoshop than many of my peers. My years of blogging and social media usage taught me valuable communications skills that I still use today.
I’m the internet kid who’s grown up into the media mogul-wannabe adult, and the digital realm that once consumed only my free time now consumes my work, my academic pursuits and my leisure time. But I sometimes wonder where I should draw the line. Where my love of digital media, technology and online culture crosses the line from “passion” to “addiction.”
We’ve all heard the dangers of Internet overuse. It’s bad for our eyes, our brainpower and our attention spans. I’m willing to bet that all the Internet kids reading this know all too well the struggle of parents and family who “just don’t understand.” Who didn’t grow up with Twitter or smartphones or apps. There’s a palpable difference between us Internet kids and our parents, which often becomes a source of tension and animosity.
How do we rationalize our tendencies to scroll through Facebook and watch hours of YouTube videos? Can we honestly deny that our profuse use of Tumblr or Instagram border on addiction? As media professionals-in-training, do we run the risk of having the Web rule our lives?
Consider this your daily reminder to spend some time outside. Go get coffee with a friend. Leave your phone at home. Talk a walk. Read a novel. Attend a lecture or event on campus. And when you get home or go to class the next day, sure, turn on your MacBook or iPhone. Just aim for a balance of online time and real-life interaction.
Trust me, fellow Internet kid. You’ll thank me for it later.