Dangerously Competent: Youth Access to the World Wide Web

“Alyssa Fletcher commented on your status update!” This is the message I saw displayed on my iPhone before sitting down to start this post. As a college student, I most often have my cell phone and lap top near at hand.

I’ll gladly admit that I dramatically rolled my eyes at the word “technopanic” at the beginning of Marwick’s article. As I read on, I was pleased to discover that Marwick seems to share my opinion that panic over the “dangers” of technology  has been exaggerated over the past two decades. Passionate “Mommy bloggers” publish non-credible opinions all over the internet about what can happen to our youth if the government doesn’t restrict access to social networking websites considered “harmful to minors.” The question is, what exactly does “harmful to minors” mean anyway? Politicians continuously try to pass laws creating barriers on the internet, but the Supreme Court still has yet to come up with a definition for the term.

Before I continue my argument, be sure not to confuse me with some crazy liberal. When I become a mother, I sure as hell don’t want my six year olds looking at cyber porn or meeting strangers on MySpace. But I do believe that restrictions are being made on the internet for the wrong reasons. As Marwick mentioned, the movement is more of a “fear of modernity” rather than a fear of predators.

Children are becoming increasingly literate when it comes to technology, and adults feel threatened by their knowledge and the power shift that can result from it. For this reason, the media publicizes all of the bad news that comes from websites, especially MySpace. We have seen countless stories about predators meeting up with and causing harm to minors, but many of these stories have proven to be inaccurate. In society today, almost everyone we know has some kind of online account. With such a large population of people using the internet, there is bound to be some percentage of people who are using it for illegal activity, just as in the offline world.

It’s time for pre-technology era adults to face the facts: new technology, especially social networking, is part of society. Kids are going to use it and going to continue increasing their digital competancy. The teen in the link below has encountered extreme fame and success through his knowledge of posting videos on the internet. If you think technology and social networking can only cause harm, please take a look at the video by clicking the link, and then tell me you don’t want your children to be as digitally literate as they can be.

Justin Bieber


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