"The internet is changing the way we feel!"
By Maitri & Toniloba, Holland House School
part of our Young Writers Collection
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The article was written by Maitri & Toniloba, two students from Holland House School. They were inspired to write this post after taking part in their VotesforSchools discussion, asking whether the internet is changing the way that we feel about ourselves.
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part of our Young Writers Collection
Recently, VotesforSchools asked Primary-aged pupils across the country whether they thought that the internet was changing the way that we feel. The results were close, but ultimately 59% of 4-11 year-olds voted ‘yes’ - that the internet does change the way we feel about ourselves.
After taking part in this lesson Toniloba & Maitri - two Year 5 pupils from Holland House School - got in touch to let us know how they felt about the topic. Here’s what they said:
Both Toniloba & Maitri agreed with 59% of their peers that the internet does affect the way that they feel. They gave a range of reasons, but particularly focused on how the internet affects self-esteem.
“The Internet does change how we feel about ourselves because it is a powerful tool.” writes Maitri. It “can make you forget that you are unique and can cause you to lose the ability to differentiate between the real world and the perfect make-believe world.” They continue to say that having a “glimpse” of other people’s life and events “might make someone feel that they do not fit in because another person or group of people are doing things differently to them.”
Toniloba agrees: “The Internet is a huge platform which people from all around the world have access to.” While this platform can be used for good, Toniloba touches upon how sharing an opinion can affect others. “A person might post their opinion of something but another person who perhaps is more popular might strongly disagree. Although it might not be intentional, the other person might start to feel insecure and unhappy about themselves.”
This discussion surrounding influencers is particularly interesting as it can be tempting only to think of influencers as those who are paid to create types of content online and drive customers to certain products. However, these two young people give us a very different perspective to consider: are we all, in one way or another, an online influencer? And if we are, what are our responsibilities as influencers?
While a beach snap of your recent holiday may influence your small circle of followers to head online and check out flight prices, Maitri rightly points out that there is a big difference between unintentional influencers and those that influence with an agenda. They write, “The more dangerous aspect of the Internet is the fact that social media harbors negative influencers, who purposefully use filters to look attractive and tell lies about the way in which they live, attempting to manipulate how other people feel about themselves. They intentionally set standards on relationships and pretend they lead a perfect life, hoping people will think that the influences are better than them and feel like they are not good enough.”
Maitri also touches on the effect of peer pressure, and how it can “ cause someone to feel insufficient [&] might also lead to them doing unnecessary things, such as using filters to enhance their beauty or boasting untrue things.” They elaborate on how this affects self-esteem by writing, “This is terrible not only for them, but for other people too, because as well as lying to themselves, which could result in them feeling fake, they are lying to other people, maybe hurting other people’s feelings as they were hurt before.”
“On the other hand,” Toniloba writes, “some people might intentionally and repetitively send mean comments about someone to make them feel bad about themselves. This is called Cyberbullying and although many sites put a ban on that, it still has not been eliminated from the internet yet. A person can feel that they are an outcast and try to imitate other people, pushing away their own interest, trying to become a person they are not. The internet still is not completely free from Cyber bullying yet, but one day it will be. People will be able to freely express themselves without anyone judging them, this is an extremely important topic. My answer to this topic is, ‘Yes the internet does change how we feel about ourselves’.”