Monday, February 23, 2009

The Generation Gap

While conducting my research, I came across an interesting issue: what parents actually know about the internet. Teenagers, especially those between the ages of 11-16, have grown up with the internet. In fact, many of them responded in an interview that they could not imagine life without it. This early exposure and daily use of the internet by teens, and preteens, have left them extremely proficient in navigating the online world.

Parents, however, are far behind their children. Despite the software claiming to prevent adware, spyware, and graphic websites from being accessed by children, parents know relatively little about the internet and what can be accessed on it. Most parents have given up and are allowing children free reign of the internet as long as they promise not to purchase anything on the internet and look at pornography. They trust controls on the websites and the teen's own moral judgment when navigating the internet.

Growing research has pointed that this may be especially dangerous. Children often lie on waiver forms and applications for use of a social networking site because they want to see what only adults are supposedly able to use. It is the prohibited activity that, once again, is turning children to engaging in dangerous activities. The internet can't, as of yet, make one prove that they are of a certain age. It assumes that one is telling the truth when subscribing to certain services.

So, where is all this going? To an internet-savvy generation, the internet is another place for them to be and use at will. They use it for everything: schoolwork, play, and social networking. To teens, the internet is another medium of communication that is just as intimate as a phone call. It allows them the facade to be an adult in a world where an adult is the only person that is able to make decisions. With the growing discrepancy in knowledge about the internet between teens and parents, it is hard to say how much parents can control their children from running rampant on the internet. Is it safe to let these kids run rampant or are they just having fun?

-Jessica Cha