Many young people, having grown up with online friends, seem to have lost the ability to discern the difference between real and virtual. What kind of effect would this have on their real-world relationships? The prevalence of real-time role-playing games shared with friends over the always-on internet connection blurs this boundary between the real world environment and the imagined world to an even greater degree. What effect would this have on a young person’s concepts of the real? How would the combined effects of warped real-world relationships and warped concepts of real-world environment function to shape the young person’s perception of life or development of a world-view? As this field is a relatively new one, it is imagined that there is not a lot of research available yet on these topics. The present research is thus designed to discover if these types of negative effects of internet use are truly manifest within this first generation. Rather than attempting to lead the research with these questions specifically in mind, the goal of the present investigation will be to explore the central question of what are the detrimental effects of the internet on young minds as identified by professionals and as recognized by young people?
To gain answers to the research question, a search of available literature on the topic will be conducted. The purpose of starting with the literature review is to understand what has been written on the topic already and to determine whether previous research supports my hypotheses regarding the detrimental effects of the internet on a young person’s mind. From this vantage point, the next stage of the research will be to develop a survey to distribute among professional psychologists and counselors who work on a regular basis with young people and a survey to distribute among young people.