School’s out and many children fill at least part of their summer days with World Wide Web activities on fast internet connections. Camps and day camps feature computer labs and lots of specialized digital programs. On the go, we increasingly carry more gadgets — mobile phones, smartphones, iTouches, Blackberries, and iPads. In fact, even on vacations and at hotels, cottages, and many of those rustic country cabins we all hope to escape to, we stay connected. After years of teaching, I’ve found that my students’ digital skills usually expand during the three-month summer hiatus from school.
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. Continue reading “Teens, Parent Anxiety, and the Internet”→
The graphic below shows daily use of a variety of communication technologies – and suggests that while text messaging as a daily activity for teens has grown astronomically over the past three years, other communicative technologies have remained relatively stable or have declined slightly, suggesting that the increase in texting has layered on top of the other modes of communication that teens employ.
To get a sense of how much you really know about the social networking world and the movers and shakers who are actively developing and tweaking it, take a social media quiz. The Big Social Media Quiz over at the Liberate Media website.
A user needs 70% to pass this quiz, and though I know all sorts of minutia about social media, I only answered 50% of the questions correctly. Sigh!
Liberate Media is a PR firm with social media expertise.
Last Monday I read three powerful articles, and they fit together like a puzzle. They illustrate how a generational digital divide accentuates adolescent virtual world problems — a result of the contradictory digital perceptions of teens and adults.
POISONED WEB: A Girl’s Nude Photo and Altered Lives, appeared in the New York Times. The article describes how small, teenage misjudgments in the unsupervised world of instant web, smartphones, and cyber-bullying, can magnify hate and cause terrible pain. Reporter Jan Hoffman quotes adults who wish they had supervised more carefully and pledge to do more in the future. I wondered, as I often do when I read these articles, what leads adults not to supervise in the first place? Reading about the teachers, administrators, and officials who attempted to create opportunities for growth and learning out of the senseless hurt and cruelty was a highlight of the article.
Maintaining control over privacy settings is a required and critical technology task for each Facebook user. Since sharing information is one of Facebook’s primary missions, the company wants to collect and share as much personal information as possible with its advertisers. Facebook sets most new features to share data then when they first debut on the site, and to be fair, social networking is all about sharing information. Thus it is up to each individual to determine just how much information to put out there, making conscious decisions about what the world can see, what close friends can view, and what to keep private.
Our children and their friends are enthusiastic Facebook users, but they do not always focus on the need to pay attention, on a regular basis, to privacy settings. I’ve written many privacy posts on this blog including Getting Serious About Online Privacyand Keeping Track: Adolescents in the Digital Age, pieces that focus on the importance of maintaining family privacy when individual members engage in so many digital activities. Knowing the connection between many social networking sites and advertisers — and the impact it has on a user’s privacy — is critical for everyone, but especially for teens.
New gadgets are great with new capabilities, advanced features, stellar communications, and exciting applications. Everything is perfect, right? Not really and especially not with the smart devices that children and adolescents carry.
As I work and play with my iPhone and iPad, the world seems pretty good. Yet, on the down side is my decreasing privacy. My two devices share a lot of my personal information with others — something I hardly ever think about when I am using the iPhone or iPad. Thinking, however, is a good idea, as is looking over a child’s Internet-connected devices and talking about what should be turned on and what should be turned off.