Technology is Forever

I get that we’re a rapidly changing culture with technology at the center.  I get that some people think it’s cute to encourage their kids to be active on Facebook and other social media sites, at times allowing or encouraging falsification of data to get around restrictions on user age requirements.  I get it.

What I don’t get it is how completely clueless people can be about the online environment, and the many ways it can be negatively used.  Not surprisingly, as kids are immature and figuring out all manner of social rituals and expectations, many of these negative uses involve kids.  
Becky sent me a link to this disturbing article that broke a few weeks ago, about a group of high school boys using a web site to maintain statistics about their sexual exploits as well as the girls they achieved them with.  It’s a disturbing article.  Be forewarned.  Then there is the news of a riot in a Swedish city because of allegations of an Instagram account that was used to compile allegations of sexual activity involving youth as young as 13 or 14.  
Do you remember peer pressure in high school?  Do you remember the constant rumor mills about who was doing what with whom?  Do you remember the snide comments and behind the back knives?  Do you remember the bullying?  Did you manage to find some sort of safe place from all of that?  Home or work or another environment where you could leave all of that behind, at least for a few hours a day?
Imagine not having that safe haven.  Imagine the combination of obsessing over your online persona and social life, while having that online experience full of all the garbage that you hear as you walk down the halls of your school.  Imagine never being able to get rid of those voices, to turn off the pressure.  Imagine that the demands and the insults are always as close as that pretty touch-screen on your smart phone.  
You can teach kids about how to use technology wisely.  You can try to teach your kids about human nature and our capacity for hurting one another.  Neither of these things is necessarily going to prepare them adequately to deal with the online pressure cooker.  Give your kids the blessing of a safe haven for as long as you can.  Soon enough they’ll be old enough to be insisting on certain types of online social media access, and at that point it may not make sense to deny it to them.  
But don’t rush them into it.  They may not be ready for it.

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