Day after day frightening stories bombard us with warnings about what might happen to children and teens when they use the Internet and World Wide Web, so it’s useful to remind ourselves that these digital resources can provide our children with unparalleled opportunities to learn, socialize, and become active citizens. An article, Our Overblown Paranoia About the Internet and Teens, recently published in the online publication, Salon, provides just such a reminder.
Pediatrician Rahul Parikh, who practices in the San Francisco Bay area, points out that, despite all of our anxiety about teens and Internet risks, no statistics really exist to offer a full picture of the incidence of exposure to risk. Those few that do are often biased because of a common problem for research, posing questions to get the desired answer. Situations that do occur are often covered by a hysterical media, making us feel like a problem happens over and over, just around the corner.
While no easy answers or quick solutions exist to solve all real digital world concerns, Dr. Parikh writes that parents, teachers, and yes, even physicians can make an enormous difference by focusing on the importance of digital citizenship and family conversations. He writes:
Ultimately, it’s more sensible to teach our kids to be good digital citizens instead of racing to protect them from every tweet, text and graffiti on their Facebook wall. Good citizenship isn’t a radical aspiration at all. In that sense, the Internet isn’t the brave new world it’s cracked up to be. Rather, with all of its opportunities, choices and risks, it’s just an extension of the everyday world.
One of the best comments I’ve read about parenting and technology!