Information and communication technology, or ICT, encompasses a broad range of media used for educational and entertainment purposes including television, computers and cell phones. ICT may impact youth in a myriad of ways, both positive and negative.
According to an in-depth evaluation of the impact of ICT on youth published in the 2003 World Youth Report prepared by the United Nations, ICT has changed the way young people interact socially, as digital communication has increasingly replaced traditional forms of interaction. ICT offers youth autonomy from families with access to vast virtual social networks that provide more instantly-gratifying, but less personal interactions.
Some research, including a Swedish study published in a 2007 issue of the journal Computers in Human Behavior, highlights the potential negative impacts of ICT on youth. This study concluded that a high quantity of ICT use is a risk factor for developing psychological symptoms among young adults. In particular, high computer and mobile phone use were associated with symptoms of stress, depression and sleep disturbances in young men and women.
Education and Empowerment
ICT also offers opportunities for youth empowerment and education, particularly in societies where resources are limited. A 2009 paper on the impact of ICT in Aboriginal Australia concluded that youths in remote regions can use ICT to maintain cultures, gain knowledge, develop skills and generate income. According to the 2005 World Youth Report section on youth in civil society, "ICT is increasingly being used to improve access to education and employment opportunities, which supports efforts to eradicate poverty."