The Instigator
Pro (for)
11 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

That the internet has reduced the community involvement of youth

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Post Voting Period
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after 2 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/31/2012 Category: Technology
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,141 times Debate No: 25389
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (34)
Votes (2)




This is going to be a reasonably simple academic debate. Four rounds, except this first one is for acceptance, 8000 chars per round, 72 hours to post each round. I am pro, my opponent will be con.

"The Internet" shall be defined to include the world wide web and the content served on it.
"Community Involvement" shall be defined to be the degree of connectedness between the subject and their proximate neighbourhood (as opposed to, say, the "community of world of warcraft players").
"Youth" shall be any person between the ages of 12 and 20 that has access to the internet.

Thank you and good luck!


I accept. I would like to point out that you must prove that the internet is what has reduced it, not the children's use of it. After all, one can't say a chocolate makes you fat when it is the digestion of it that does.
Debate Round No. 1


My opponent claims that I must prove that the internet, as opposed to its use, reduces youth community involvement, a sort of semantic twisting of the resolution. This is not only a squirrel as it goes against the clear spirit of the motion, but it's also false. Chocolate does make you fat, digestion is merely the mechanism that allows it to do so. It is the same with the internet. Furthermore, the two are not seperate concepts, for there would be no internet if nobody used it, just as there would be no chocolate if nobody ate it (why else make chocolate?) so the internet cannot be examined independantly of its use. Therefore, it is logically necessary to take the meaning of the internet in the context that it is being used. This debate is about whether that influence has been one, among the youth demographic, that has reduced community involvement.

Our communities have changed from being based on interpersonal relationships to parasocial relationships, because the internet creates the illusion of face-to-face communication by mass means [1]. The effect of this is that while internet relationships are inherently parasocial, they are constructed to appear interpersonal. Most debates on this site, for example, are written more or less as if we were speaking face-to-face, but really we are not. Here we must distinguish between primary and secondary relationships. In a secondary relationship, one only knows the other person on a very few dimensions. In a primary relationship, one knows the other person on many dimensions. This is the kind of relationship face-to-face communication creates. Research has shown that the internet increases our number of secondary relationships - but at the same time, it reduces our primary relationships, as we start spending more time on the net and less with people [2]. For example, internet users communicate with family more infrequently [3], and in most cases, lose social contact sufficiently to become depressed [4]. As two researchers put it, "virtual communities are spatially liberated, socially ramified, topically fused, and psychologically detached, with a limited liability. In this sense, if we understand community to include the close, emotional, holistic ties of Gemeinschaft, then the virtual community is not true community" [5]. Because we do not engage in higher-level communication, we become increasingly disconnected from our community. With their minds still developing, young people are especially vulnerable to these things.

There are, additionally, certain youth with issues that mean the internet substitutes community involvement even more so than it does for the average young person. The biggest one is the fact that youth are undergoing a tough, transitional period in their lives (such as the development of non-family interpersonal relationships) that, for many of them, may require a "coping mechanism" [7]. Because the internet is completely virtualised and parasocial, it actually does work as a coping mechanism, but because it makes them feel better than anything else in the "real" world, it becomes addictive. That creates depersonalisation and antisocialisation [6].

Furthermore, many people have argued that the influence of the internet is not building real-world communities, and indeed can detract from them [8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14]. The internet is a substitute for real-world concerns, building such fantastically-named structures as "Disneylands" [11] and "Pseudo-communities" [10] instead that substituted real-world involvement. Why hang out at the town hall when you can hang out at the modern-day simulation of a medieval town hall, "Facebook"!? These might be rooted in real-world ideas, but are little more than a simulation or illusion. Youth experienced declines in civic engagement, and were particularly disenfranchised from their own communities [15]. Writing about community involvement, one author called the situation in 2000 a "civic crisis" [16]. Since then, internet use has gone up by about 15% [17], while rates of volunteering (a good indicator for the degree of community involvement) did increase slightly until about 2005, but have since dropped down again [17]. The civic crisis has clearly not ended. That's why celebrity tweets are now often more important than celebrity speeches.

Older people are also becoming increasingly disconnected from their physically proxmiate communities, for the same reasons. This affects youth because older people are usually the ones who create community events and organisations, and because it makes it harder for youth to get widespread support for their own movements. Additionally, because some young people are becoming disconnected from the community, youth become typecast in the eyes of older people. This phenomenon, known as "adultism", is the assumption held by many adults that they are or know better than young people, which in turn leads to psychological problems in the youth who are rejected by adults [19].

That concludes my opening statement. I look forward to hearing my opponent's case.

1- Jensen, J.F. (1998). ‘Interactivity' - Tracking a New Concept in Media and Communication Studies. Nordicorn Review, 19(1): 185-204.
2- Bollier, D. (ed.) (1995). The future of community and personal identity in the coming electronic culture. Washington DC:Aspen Institute
3- Kraut, R., Mukhopadhyay, T., Szczypula, J., Kiesler, S., & Scherlis, W. (1998). Communication and information: Alternative uses of the Internet in households. In Proceedings of the CHI 98 (pp. 368-383). New York: ACM.
4- LaRose, R., Eastin, M. S., & Gregg, J. (2001). Reformulating the Internet paradox: Social cognitive explanations of Internet use and depression. Journal of Online Behavior, 1/2[Online]. Available:
5- Driskell, R. B. and Lyon, L. (2002), Are Virtual Communities True Communities? Examining the Environments and Elements of Community. City & Community, 1(4): 373–390. doi: 10.1111/1540-6040.00031
6- Beutel, M.E., Br�hler, E., Glaesmer, H., Kuss, D., W�lfling, K., and M�ller, K.W. (2011). Regular and Problematic Leisure-Time Internet Use in the Community: Results from a German Population-Based Survey. CyberPsychology, Behavior & Social Networking, 14(5): 291-296. doi: 10.1089/cyber.2010.0199
7- Chagnon F. (2007). Coping mechanisms, stressful events and suicidal behavior among youth admitted to juvenile justice and child welfare services. Suicide Life Threat Behav, 37(4): 439-52.
8- Kiesler, S., Siegel, H. and McGuire, T.W. (1984). Social psychological aspects of computer-mediated communication. American Psychologist, 39(10): 1123-1134
9- Gergen, K. (1991). The Saturated Self: Dilemmas of Identity in Contemporary Life. New York: HarperCollins.
10-Beniger, J. (1988). The Personalization of mass media and the growth of the pseudo-community. Communications Research, 14(3): 352-71.
11-Baudrillard, Jean. (1983). Simulations. (Paul Foss, Paul Patton, and Philip Beitchman, Trans.). New York: Semiotest(e). (1983).
12-Turkle, S. (1996). Virtuality and its discontents: Searching for community in cyberspace. The American Prospect. 24, (Winter 1996), 50–57.
13-Stoll, C. (1995). Silicon snake oil: Second thoughts on the information highway. New York: Doubleday.
14-Slouka, M. (1995). War of the worlds: Cyberspace and the high-tech assault on reality. New York: Basic Books.
15-Carpini, M.X.D. (2000). Youth, Civic Engagement, and the New Information Environment. Political Communication, 17(4): 341-349. doi: 10.1080/10584600050178942
16-Putnam, R.D. (2000). Bowling alone: The collapse and revival of American community. New York: Simon & Schuster.
17-Pew Internet & American Life Project. (2010). Updated: Change in internet access by age group. Retrieved September 1, 2012, from
18-Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement (2011). Youth Volunteering in the States: 2002 to 2009. Retrieved September 1, 2012, from
19-Checkoway, B. (2011). What is youth participation? Children and Youth Services Review, 33(2), pp 340-345, doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2010.09.017.


Youth and adults have identified a variety of motivators for volunteering or becoming active in their communities. These have included practical assessments of their activities, such as: to meet school requirements; hopes of getting higher grades in a particular class; improving their chances of getting into college; or as an entry to a desired job (Andolina, Jenkins, Keeter, & Zukin, 2002). Motivations can also be the result of more practical conditions, such as a need to develop job contacts and enhance existing skills. In geographic areas where employment opportunities are limited, voluntary activities can offer a valuable alternative to paid employment (Clary, Snyder, & Ridge, 1992; Independent Sector, 2001).

Youth also report becoming active for self-actualization (recognition, raise self-esteem) and social responsibility (setting an example, public duty) (Clary, Snyder, & Ridge, 1992; Independent Sector, 2001). Feelings of efficacy (Clary, Snyder, & Ridge, 1992; Sherrod, Flanagan, & Youniss, 2002), having responsibility/leadership (Kubisch, 2005), and the need to be taken seriously (Flanagan & Van Horn, 2001) have all emerged as important reasons why youth pursue community involvement.

Finally, activeness in the community is facilitated by youth participation in community-based groups. Interaction between social groups promotes awareness of needs and helps identify volunteer opportunities (Wilkinson, 1991; Luloff & Swanson, 1995). Overall, a variety of motivations are present that shape civic behavior. Included are traditional factors (motivations and sociodemographics), but also the extent to which people interact with each other.

Despite the influences and motivations, significant obstacles exist that inhibit, and often discourage, community activeness among youth. Among the leading obstacles prevalent in the research, not being taken seriously, not being asked, and not being assigned or having an identifiable role are consistently noted in the research literature (Independent Sector, 2001). Felix (2003) identified other challenges to youth involvement in communities, including a lack of communication and awareness of opportunities, turf issues among organizations competing for youth participants, youth fears of speaking out, lack of diversity, and adultism or the systematic mistreatment of young people simply because of their age.

Other factors such as lack of transportation (Scales & Leffert, 1999), lack of time (Sherrod, Flanagan, & Youniss, 2002), and not being sure of the benefits of their contributions (Israel, Coleman, & Ilvento, 1993) can limit the active involvement of youth. Scales & Leffert (1999) identified four key barriers that keep youth from participating in activities: lack of interesting programs, transportation problems, lack of knowledge about programs, and cost. Similarly, community organizations may be uncertain of the role or impact that youth may have in their efforts (Israel, Coleman, & Ilvento, 1993). Viewing young people as transient, participating in too many other activities, and having less predictable schedules, community organizations may exclude youth. Last, the extent to which youth can contribute to the decision making process of organizations and play an active role in program/policy development is important in shaping youth involvement.

The views and opinions of others, namely authority figures, can greatly influence youth community involvement. Youth report a greater likelihood of becoming involved if their participation is valued by parents, teachers, community leaders, etc. (Camino, 2000; Fogel, 2004; Jarrett, Sullivan, & Watkins, 2005). The receptivity of authority figures can play a central role in youth efficacy, their engagement, and their continued involvement in the community.

Historically, previously held negative beliefs by both youth and adults (Jarrett, Sullivan, & Watkins, 2005; Zeldin, 2004) have created a disconnection between youth involvement and youth-adult partnerships in the community. Often, youth have not been viewed as essential contributors to society, mainly due to stereotypical images and misconceptions of their age and developmental capacity. The period of intense emotional changes during adolescence helps contribute to the lower expectations of youth from adults and subsequent decreased opportunity for youth to participate in community activities (Camino & Zeldin, 2002). Such conditions have led to a lack of recognition and receptivity by adults, and often, the wider community.

The increasing presence of youth in the development process and the establishment of youth-adult partnerships have created an environment where communities are more receptive. The active involvement of youth highlights their value and provides an opportunity to erase negative stereotypes. Recent research has focused on such positively held adult notions of youth and their relationship to encouraging youth involvement. Zeldin (2002) reported that many adults perceive adolescents as being capable of contributing to their communities, performing well in community positions, and taking proactive approaches to their life development. This receptiveness opens the door to long-term youth involvement, while also facilitating greater appreciation for the youth contribution to the community by adults (Camino, 2000).

Debate Round No. 2


First of all, I'd like to point out that my opponent's whole R2 argument is plagiarised from the Aug 2007 edition of the Journal of Extension, a piece by Brennan, Barnett and Baugh from the University of Florida called "Youth Involvement in Community Development: Implications and Possibilities for Extension". As it so happens, the same piece is available for free online at the journal of extension website, here: Please note that the article is under copyright.

That's why my opponent was unable to rebut my arguments. My case remains undisputed and needs to be answered by my opponent if he intends to win this debate.

My opponent has provided zero references or sources. Simply giving the surname of the author of a study and the year in which it was published is not enough because it's still often ambiguous. In the actual study he cited there was a whole page full of references but he didn't bother to plagiarise them too.

The article my opponent copied is irrelevant to the topic. The point it establishes, as explained in the abstract, is this:

" The findings provide insights into the factors most directly shaping youth attitudes and involvement in their communities."

Just because something shapes youth attitudes doesn't mean it decreases involvement. Furthermore, the internet (or any other technology) was not a factor that was included in the study, meaning that the study's authors were just as clueless as to whether the resolution is true or not at the beginning of the study as at the end.

For all these reasons, I contest that my opponent has failed to attack my case, is guilt of strawmanning, and has plagiarised worse than I've ever seen. I hope for a little better argumentation in R3.


Teh poinr I wished to raise is this:

The definition of the internet is: a vast computer network linking smaller computer networksworldwide (usually preceded by the ). The Internet includescommercial, educational, governmental, and other networks, allof which use the same set of communications protocols.[1]

The statistics of youth involvement are this:

The volunteer rate rose by 0.5 percentage point to 26.8 percent for the year
ending in September 2011, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.
About 64.3 million people volunteered through or for an organization at least
once between September 2010 and September 2011. The increase in the volunteer
rate in 2011 followed a decline of equal size in 2010.

Table A. Volunteers by selected characteristics, September 2007 through September 2011

(Numbers in thousands)

September 2007 September 2008 September 2009 September 2010 September 2011

Number Percent Number Percent Number Percent Number Percent Number Percent
of popu- of popu- of popu- of popu- of popu-
lation lation lation lation lation


Total, both sexes.....................60,838 26.2 61,803 26.4 63,361 26.8 62,790 26.3 64,252 26.8
Men..................................25,724 22.9 26,268 23.2 26,655 23.3 26,787 23.2 27,354 23.5
Women ...............................35,114 29.3 35,535 29.4 36,706 30.1 36,004 29.3 36,898 29.9


Total, 16 years and over..............60,838 26.2 61,803 26.4 63,361 26.8 62,790 26.3 64,252 26.8
16 to 24 years....................... 7,798 20.8 8,239 21.9 8,290 22.0 8,297 21.9 8,578 22.5
25 to 34 years....................... 9,019 22.6 9,154 22.8 9,511 23.5 9,140 22.3 9,691 23.3
35 to 44 years.......................12,902 30.5 13,016 31.3 12,835 31.5 12,904 32.2 12,566 31.8
45 to 54 years.......................13,136 30.1 13,189 29.9 13,703 30.8 13,435 30.3 13,420 30.6
55 to 64 years....................... 9,316 28.4 9,456 28.1 9,894 28.3 9,830 27.2 10,449 28.1
65 years and over.................... 8,667 23.8 8,749 23.5 9,129 23.9 9,184 23.6 9,547 24.0

1 Data refer to persons 25 years and over.
2 Includes persons with a high school diploma or equivalent.
3 Includes persons with bachelor's, master's, professional, and doctoral degrees.
4 Usually work 35 hours or more a week at all jobs.
5 Usually work less than 35 hours a week at all jobs.
NOTE: Data on volunteers relate to persons who performed unpaid volunteer activities for an organization at any point
in the year ending in September. Estimates for the above race groups (white, black or African American, and Asian) do not
sum to totals because data are not presented for all races. Persons whose ethnicity is identified as Hispanic or Latino may be of any race.
Updated population controls are introduced annually with the release of January data. See the Technical Note for further information.

Volunteers of both sexes spent a median of 51 hours on volunteer activities during
the period from September 2010 to September 2011. Median annual hours spent on
volunteer activities ranged from a high of 96 hours for volunteers age 65 and over
to a low of 32 hours for those 25 to 34 years old. (See table 2.)

Most volunteers were involved with either one or two organizations--69.6 and 19.4
percent, respectively. Individuals with higher educational attainment were more
likely to volunteer for multiple organizations than were those with less education.
(See table 3.)

In 2011, the main organization--the organization for which the volunteer worked
the most hours during the year--was most frequently religious (33.2 percent of all
volunteers), followed by educational or youth service related (25.7 percent).
Another 14.3 percent of volunteers performed activities mainly for social or
community service organizations. (See table 4.)

The type of main organization for which individuals volunteered also varied by
educational attainment. Volunteering mainly for religious organizations decreased
as educational attainment increased. Among volunteers with less than a high school
diploma, 47.8 percent volunteered mainly for religious organizations, compared
with 31.3 percent of those with a bachelor's degree and higher. Volunteering
primarily for educational or youth service organizations increased with educational
attainment. Of volunteers with less than a high school diploma, 22.7 percent
volunteered mainly for this type of organization, compared with 26.7 percent of
those with a bachelor's degree and higher.

Educational attainment influenced the types of activities volunteers performed.
College graduates were more likely than those with less education to tutor or
teach or to provide professional or management assistance. They were least
likely to collect, make, or distribute clothing, crafts, or goods other than
food. Volunteers with less than a high school diploma were more likely to collect,
prepare, and distribute food than those with higher levels of education.

Debate Round No. 3


As for the argument that my opponent puts right at the end of his R3 case, it's almost exactly the same as what he said in round one, the only significant difference being that it's in bold. If you look to the first paragraph of my R2 case, you'll note that I have rebutted this already. Rather than appealing to the same thing over and over again, expecting to get different results, my opponent should either extend that case, refute my rebuttal, or drop it. As it stands the point is no more valid in bold than it was in normal type.

The only other thing my opponent adds is a very (un-necessarily) long quotation from a study that proves the volunteer rate rose 0.5% from 2010-2011. This does not engage the vast majority of my argument - if anything, it seeks to reinforce my point that volunteer rates are more or less the same as they were back in 2000. 0.5% is not really a significant increase, and it has to be measured against decreases that have happened over other years in that same period. Even if they did increase, though, that would still not be evidence that technology was the cause of that increase. Therefore, my opponent has still not come back to my case.

My opponent has at no point seriously challenged any of the contentions I made in R2, has failed to provide a complete argument of his own, and now it's too late.

The resolution is affirmed.


It rose by 0.5%, thus the community involvement has INCREASED (the opposite of reduced) thus the internet can't be responsible for somethign that hasn't happened, THE OPPOSITE HAPPENED!!!!!!!!!!





SEXY TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Debate Round No. 4
34 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by dylancatlow 4 years ago
k, I'll check out Sam Harris. Thanks.
Posted by Manbearpanda 4 years ago
I found Nate Quarry's interesting, but that's mostly because I follow UFC a bit. And Sam Harris is always interesting.
Posted by dylancatlow 4 years ago
Okay, I was just wondering if you've seen any that are interesting.
Posted by Manbearpanda 4 years ago
I haven't watched many.
Posted by dylancatlow 4 years ago
Manbearpanda, do you ever watch any TED talks?
Posted by dylancatlow 4 years ago
But wait, that would mean I'M not as smart as the average pet rock or creationist. GASP
Posted by Manbearpanda 4 years ago
My furniture is no more intelligent than the average pet rock or creationist.
Posted by dylancatlow 4 years ago
Unfortunately, my couch is SOFAKINGDUM

Posted by dylancatlow 4 years ago
That's quite some chair you have. I'm jealous of your intelligent furniture.
Posted by Manbearpanda 4 years ago
My chair has proven itself to be more intelligent than you.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Yep 4 years ago
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Total points awarded:70 
Reasons for voting decision: Oh the fool who states that his opponent plagiarizes and lets everyone see it was he who plagiarized instead! Pro won after round 3, but even so round 4 was enjoyable for con. Everything to pro, calling out plagiarism and then actually plagiarizing yourself loses conduct, s/g to pro/ args to pro/ pro had many more sources.
Vote Placed by Mathaelthedestroyer 4 years ago
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: Con plagiarized his entire argument, as usual. I did some basic research (admittedly not in-depth), and I have found no evidence to support the claim that pro plagiarized. Con didn't address any arguments and did not bring up any of his own (since they were stolen). Conduct and arguments must go to pro.