How parents, children, siblings, cousins, close friends, grandparents and grandchildren use new technologies to remain closely connected despite distance, divorce, military assignment or longterm travel
CBS News ran this story examining whether social networking online is an addiction. Obviously YES, if it interferes with getting work done or is such a preoccupation that it distracts from scheduling face-to-face activities.
Is it possible to have TOO MANY FRIENDS on social networking sites? As one gets older, one realizes they all aren't friends, they are CONTACTS, and that online relationships are far shallower than relationships developed primarily offline. It's too easy to hit the delete button or to ignore someone online. And instead of getting upset that someone is ignoring your emails, pick up the phone or go to see them face to face.
PBS Frontline investigates the risks, realities and misconceptions of teen life online. "Nearly every teen in America is on the Internet every day, socializing with friends and strangers alike, "trying on" identities, and building a virtual profile of themselves--one that many kids insist is a more honest depiction of who they really are than the person they portray at home or in school. In "Growing Up Online," FRONTLINE peers inside the world of this cyber-savvy generation through the eyes of teens and their parents, who often find themselves on opposite sides of a new digital divide." Click.
"The Death of Email," by Chad Lorenz in Slate: "Those of us older than 25 can't imagine a life without e-mail. For the Facebook generation, it's hard to imagine a life of only e-mail, much less a life before it." But email "is looking obsolute." Teenagers prefer to use instant messaging, text messages via their mobile phones, and sites like Twitter and Facebook to communicate with their friends. Read the whole thing.
Apophenia: "Email is not gone but it is dead in the sense that it is no longer a site of deep emotional passion. People still have accounts, just like they still have mailboxes. But their place for sociable communication is elsewhere."
"Through His Webcam, A Boy Joins a Sordid World" by Kurt Eichenwald in The New York Times is a powerful expose the online child pornography sub-culture, and of the dangers of giving kids unsupervised access to webcams. For all the good that new technologies can do to help families strengthen bonds from a distance (that we highlight on this web site), there's also a dangerous underworld of sexual predators online eager to take advantage of kids. Justin Berry, now 18, has turned over to the U.S. Justice Department the names of more than a thousand adults who paid to watch him perform sexual acts online since he was 13 years old. First tempted by an offer to pay him $60 to take off his shirt, Justin set up an online pornography business that led to numerous instances of molestation and threatened to destroy his spirit. In an online video Interview, Justin says parents should disconnect and throw kids' webcams away. While this is an understandable reaction from a young man who has been victimized, it's the equivilant of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. More must be done to protect kids online, but outlawing webcams is not a practical solution.
William Saletin in Slatesums up the problem: "Webcams have opened a new era in child pornography.Problems: 1) Webcams are now cheap enough for kids to afford. 2) Broadband is fast enough to deliver sexual video. 3) A kid who posts innocuous video of himself is tracked down by pedophiles, who befriend him and offer money for favors, starting with partial nudity via the Webcam. 4) Some kids turn this into a business. 5) Parents don't know, because the Webcam is in the kid's room. 6) Cops can no longer pose as kids to catch pedophiles, because pedophiles insist that the kid show himself on a Webcam—and cops aren't allowed to use real kids as bait."
Richard Alan Tatum on BlogRodent says: While we can’t screen everybody our kids come into contact with, there are certain things we can, and must do for our children:
» Keep channels of communication open with your kids. » Keep computers in a visible place, not behind locked doors. » Use net filtering/monitoring software on all Internet-connected machines. Let your wife choose the password. » Monitor and question excessive amounts of online activity. » Monitor the acquisition of computer hardware by your kids—especially webcams. » Monitor phone usage and know who’s talking to your your kids. » Monitor the gifts and packages your kids receive in the mail. » Make sure there are at least two adults at every church or school function your child attends. » Make sure there are at least two adults home at any “sleep-over” your child attends.
It's hard to believe that anyone could post intimate thoughts to a blog and expect it to be private, or selectively private. But that's apparently a big phenomenon these days. About 20 percent of youngsters between 12 and 17 have weblogs, reports Kevin Delaney in The Wall Street Journal. Parents read teen blogs and discover things the teen was trying to hide from the parents. And teens read parents' blogs, wondering how parents are characterizing certain events in their lives:
"The blogosphere is opening up some family communication, helping parents glean subtle, constructive information that helps their parenting. Blog postings are particularly enlightening since many teens have a hard time discussing issues with their parents even when they aren't trying to hide them.
"But in other families, the familiar battles of the living room are spilling into cyberspace.
"My Mom read my blog!!!" one 14-year-old wrote in July on her blog on Xanga. "My life is so over." Upon discovering a parent reads her blog, another girl using Google Inc.'s Blogger service wrote, "I think I'm going to be sick."
"My dad is a retard who ruins everything!!!!" wrote Michelle Davis recently after she found out her father read her blog. Davis, 18, says she thought her parents had no idea that her blog existed. "Once I wrote an entire post about porn," says Davis. "That's something I would never, ever say in front of my parents."
Do you, as a teen, write things you'd rather your parents not know about? Do you care if your parents read it? Perhaps you wish your parents would care enough to read your blog.
Do you, as a parent, have a blog? Do you care if your child reads it? A blog might actually be a good way for parents and teens to clear the air with each other.