“I would like to ban U16s from having smart phones all together” – Clare Foges, The Telegraph
The Internet is feared and thus, the problems surrounding it are ignored with mindless simplicity and avoidance. We hear the stories in the media of Cyber bullying, sexual harassment, pressure to send nudes and political radicalization within a digital world technology critics know little about. In order to cope with these issues, the older generation try to hide young people from a world they refuse to educate themselves about. Instead of addressing the terrible issues on the Internet, they choose to ignore it, because they see the Internet as a fantasy – an evil body, rather than the real parallel civilization it actually is.
Critics of the Internet need to educate themselves on the real issues young people face.
“Trying to use sex education to defeat the pornographic messages pouring in through children’s smart phones is like piling up a couple of sandbags against a tsunami” – The Telegraph, Clare Foges
Well maybe that’s because sex ed in schools is simply not good enough? Maybe we should try to tackle that instead, before banning the Internet completely? We shame masturbation, pornography, sexting, which means that young people feel too embarrassed to talk about it. We need to teach children that porn is different than real sex, we need honesty, because by making it a ‘dirty’ thing to do, it only becomes more enticing as an act of rebellion. If adults are going to educate young people about sex on the Internet, they need to know what’s going on themselves and be upfront honest about their own experiences. A healthy sexual relationship is not disgusting, although it’s something parents would ‘rather not talk about’
Internet Safety Education needs to be more relevant to current issues. It needs to discuss censorship on the Internet. How communication is different in real life compared to the Internet, because when speaking online we’re an anonymous voice, without any emotion, reactions or characteristics apart from the words we are speaking. Anonymity can make young people feel like their actions don’t have consequences, which can translate to dangerous judgments in real life and we also need to educate young people on the scale on the Internet.
Adults put themselves in the privileged position of responsibility when educating young people, but how are they meant to accurately educate a generation of people on a subject they’re too scared to learn about themselves? They’re scared of loosing control as their children fall into an endless pit of information, that mainstream media is desperately trying to censor from them.
Critics of technology need to be aware of the benefits too. They’re ignoring the creative uprising of writers/bloggers (such as myself), artists, musicians and film makers, that are finally finding other young people that share the same interests as them. Vloggers discuss issues schools simply ignore: equality, politics, sex ed etc. and young people finally feel understood, but then it’s drilled into our brains that everything on the Internet is a lie. Young people with mental illnesses support each other on the Internet and selfies are a great form self empowerment, but they’re dismissed as vain and arrogant, making young people feel less confident in their bodies. Adults who are trying to censor what we see are virtually unaware of the benefits of the Internet, because they’re too terrified to learn about a world, that finally, their children know more about.
There is no point shielding young people from a concept, that is only developing and will continue to develop. Technology is constantly being weaved into the workplace, so censoring young people from it, will actually cause an economic collapse on business with a workforce too scared to use the technology they so desperately rely on.
In the Telegraph article that inspired this post in the first place, the journalist, Clare Foges said that:
“We are the adults, remember, with not just the right but a responsibility to tell children what they can and cannot do”
But this statement is simply an example of the divide between young people and adults on the discussion of technology. Instead of the adults holding ‘responsibility’ on a subject (most) know little about, all generations need to work as a coherent force to battle the actual issues on the Internet, so that young people can benefit even more from a revolutionary platform.
Thank you so much for reading,