Shock Horror 'Social Media': Who Will Save/Train the Children?

Shock Horror 'Social Media': Who Will Save/Train the Children?

Summary: An interesting US national poll from Common Sense Media asking 'is social networking changing childhood?' opens up some wider issues.


An interesting US national poll from Common Sense Media asking 'is social networking changing childhood?' opens up some wider issues.

Common sense media suggest their poll...

...illustrates a continuing disconnect between parents and kids when it comes to kids’ digital lives. In today’s society, there is more technology and less time for parents to supervise their kids’ actions and behaviors on Facebook, MySpace, or in any other digital environment. Communication and socialization in our kids’ world is increasingly moving from face-to-face to face-to-cyberspace. Families need to keep up regular conversations about life in the digital world and what it means to be a safe, smart digital citizen – including ethical behavior, privacy, bullying, and reputation management.

The report appears aimed primarily at parents and educators, with recommendations to help them get up to speed if they are not digitally literate with this advice and answers section.

This is an age old parenting concern: what IS this mysterious Rock 'n' Roll/Hip Hop/ Texting Language/Social Networking those crazy kids are doing?

Privacy Controls

From behind their bedroom doors, more than 1 out of every 10 teenagers has posted a nude or seminude picture of themselves or others online - a "digital tattoo" that could haunt them for the rest of their lives

... said Jill Tucker's opening paragraph in the San Francisco Chronicle's article on this report, before settling down into a less salacious tone

Common Sense Media are starting a pilot program this fall to bring digital media literacy into public schools. It'll take in everything from not using the cell phone at the dinner table to the dangers of posting personal information online, but parents need some lessons too, reports Tucker.

As Sun's Scott McNealey said in 1999 'You have zero privacy anyway, Get over it." Kara Swisher wrote 'that goes double for social networks'  earlier this year, commenting on the ever shifting terms of service/rules of user engagement with Facebook.

The reality is that you have very little privacy online, and this goes back to every email you've ever written which is out there somewhere. The whole concept of what and how to share information is an extremely valuable teaching exercise for just about anyone using this new medium: we are all in a digital childhood regardless of our physical age around these new mediums.

As Jennifer Leggio discussed a few weeks ago on her ZDNet blog there is widespread confusion around what constitutes your personal life and what can be picked over by potential employers. A survey found 'more than one in five employers search social networking sites to screen potential hires. And, if your social network presence isn’t in tiptop condition, it might hinder you from getting the job of your dreams in an already tough market.'

This is akin to being asked to bring all your Rock'n'Roll singles and your personal diary to a job interview in the 1950's, or your ipod hip hop playlist and all your cellular text messages more recently. 'Teenagers' must think adults are idiots as usual.

Common Sense Media will be doing a great service just by teaching users of all ages about the value of understanding their Facebook privacy settings, but what is likely to happen is users using multiple online personas for different audiences.

Implications for employee use of Enterprise 2.0

The huge productivity and cost savings of collaboration networks, the use of enterprise 2.0 technology within and between companies is reaching critical mass in many companies: the more savvy users of these relatively lightweight tools understand the power of sharing information and working together. The out of focus enthusiasms and fears around 'social media' - the personal use of online shared spaces to socialize, interact and be word of mouth marketed to - are a significant barrier to the understanding and adoption of similar technologies for business organizational use.

The chart above, from the Common Sense Media 'Teen Social Media' page has some interesting parallels not just in managing employees online (of any age) but also on educational sites.

Apart from the entertaining idea of a parent 'pretending to be an adult while chatting with someone online' (8% do it: teens must think adults are idiots take II) these are all actions which apply equally to your offline persona or your online one.

Given that more adults than teens are signing up for Facebook these days, Common Sense Media might want to broaden their focus to explicit adult privacy education also.

Topics: Collaboration, Networking, Social Enterprise


Oliver Marks & Associates provides seasoned, technology agnostic independent consulting guidance to companies on effective Digital Enterprise Transformation business strategy, tactics, infrastructure & technology decisions, roll out and enduring use models and management.

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  • Parents with Save / Train, that's what they are there for.

    for many parents today, this is new to them since the older you get, the less change you want to see. At a younger age, you're more inclined to adapt. Another thing is, more parents are getting home from work later and not being apart of their children's lives.

    You can't be a parent and a friend, but you can be a parent and a good listener w/ answers to their questions. Act like your insterested and ask questions about their social life, they'll break down and answer, just don't be intrusive.

    To be apart of the social age, join what they do and have your own TXT friends, Facebook friends, and even twitter accounts. Once they're older, they'll add you as a friend once they pass their adolescence.
  • Oh no

    There are more kids pretending to be adults than there
    are parents pretending to be adults?

    [sarcasm]This must mean teh internets are corrupting our
    childrens oh noooooo!!!!!!!11 CALL ZE FBI[/sarcasm]
  • RE: Shock Horror 'Social Media': Who Will Save/Train the Children?

    I find it hysterical that, while on the one hand everybody is so rabid about personal privacy, demanding privacy statements on web sites, and on the other hand, we are announcing every belch and fart on Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, and giving up every shred of privacy quite voluntarily.
  • RE: Shock Horror 'Social Media': Who Will Save/Train the Children?

    Good points throughout, Oliver. Privacy concerns when it comes to enterprise social software are bound to be thorny, especially in the EU. Thinking through social media policies for internal and external use is going to be a thorny challenge for employee and enterprise alike.
  • RE: Shock Horror 'Social Media': Who Will Save/Train the Children?

    Social Media is an expression of behavior, not the conditioning thereof. The concern of "Who will Save/Train the Children" has and will always be, in the hands of parents.
  • RE: Shock Horror 'Social Media': Who Will Save/Train the Children?

    There is not now nor has there ever been any such thing as "privacy" on the Internet. The true impact of the so-called social media will be a more intensive spread of ignorance and more constant (and intentional) (mis-)taking of personal opinions as fact.

  • does not matter

    no matter what you do or say until the culture changes the children will do it
    the old adage (it takes a town to raise a child) is as true today as ever only now the town includes the internet

    that makes all of us at fault to a degree

    and if you can remember what it was like to be a child/teen adults are the enemy to having fun
    • No it doesn't

      The liberals will never, ever admit they were wrong. They'll keep formulating new theories on "old" adages.

      It doesn't take a village to raise a child, and it certainly never used to be true in the U.S. It takes a mommy and a daddy to raise a child. Not two adults who happened to produce offspring but are still pursuing their own lives and careers while farming their children out to strangers for 8-12 hours a day.

      When you've had enough of the destruction of our society, maybe then we can go back to "Ozzie and Harriet", the kind of world I grew up in.

      Even now, when it's obvious that much of the decadence children are exposed to today is a result of the same kind of logic that says "well, our parents hated jazz/elvis/rock/rap, and everything turned out okay", liberals won't acknowledge that if we had stopped Elvis' swiveling hips *then*, we wouldn't have "costume malfunctions" and chanted obscenities passing for music today.
      • Wow, hate progress much?

        I imagine that a woman's place is still in the
        kitchen, then, too. And that black people
        should still be second class citizens (or
        perhaps even slaves).

        No lies, I'd hate to live in the kind of world
        you lived in, where everyone lived in their
        little sheltered bubbles and pretended to have
        a perfect family like "Leave it to Beaver"
        while never getting to experience any real

        Just because YOU can't deal with diversity and
        progress doesn't mean you should deny us our
        right to experience the world as we wish to.

        Unless that whole thing was a satire, in which
        case I applaud your wit and apologize for not
        getting it (but I can't hear your sarcastic
        tone of voice over the net :P)
      • Ya, you neocons are so smart.

        Just censor everything and control every aspect of
        your kids' lives. Great idea.

        • Indeed, it is essential

          Yes, absolutely.

          (From the EFF website):
          "On September 8, 2003, the RIAA announced the first 261 lawsuits against individuals that it had identified using the DMCA subpoenas. Among those sued was Brianna Lahara, a twelve-year-old girl living with her single mother in public housing in New York City. In order to settle the case, Brianna was forced to apologize publicly and pay $2,000."

          Of course, Brianna does not have $2,000; all such penalties hit the parents. This is what gives parents the right and duty to control their children.

          If we ever actually get to Marxism (could be within the next 8 years), children can do anything they want because parents will no longer be responsible for their children. The state will raise the children from the moment of birth onward. However, I suggest that the state will be even less tolerant of misbehavior than most parents.

          By the way, would you mind explaining "Neocon?" I do not know if you were speaking to me or someone else. In the private language of teenagers, "neocon" could mean almost anything, and what it meant last year may well not mean the same today; and what it means in Cincinnati may not be what it means in Toledo.
          • The thing is

            Although it might technically be [i]easier[/i] to
            prevent them from doing anything wrong by
            stripping them of all their rights and not letting
            them do anything, it is [i]better[/i] to educate
            them so that they know how to make the right
            choices for themselves. Or else they're going to
            be pretty screwed when they turn 18, have to fend
            for themselves, and have no clue how.
          • Agreed

            The extremes are seldom appropriate. In fact, what I have done is _monitor_ my teenager's use of the internet until I have an idea what they are going to do with it. I want to raise educated, reasonably happy, capable people -- not mental vegetables that have been playing advertisement-supported cheesy free online games for 14 years by the time of high school graduation and cannot find any other way to alleviate boredom and develop themselves.
    • I had fun AND good teachers

      Fun? I'd love to do high school again, and the most fun was with some of the teachers. My student teacher in chemistry suggested spicing up a bland experiment (making ferrous sulphate) and put out some oxidizers and stuff. The result was impressive, and the regular teacher said, "Y'all stay after class and I'll show you something." So we did, and he filled up a big test tube, you could drop a quarter dollar in it. The ingredients were sort of secret but we turned the lights out in the lab and lit it on fire. It was like the Fourth of July celebration. Awesome! I had a great math teacher who was also my photography mentor. I did not learn much math, but I did learn photography and some chemistry. I learned to fix my own car. I turned wood and metal on lathes; welded iron. I built a Heathkit radio and a Knight VTVM. Those were the days when one could use an RF signal generator and make your own neighborhood radio broadcast station with 30 milliwatts with an antenna long enough to reach your neighbor's house anyway 'cause that is what it was attached to at the other end (never mind the radio).

      Anyway, I take your meaning, somewhere along the timeline of recent history "fun" started to mean "malicious" or "destructive"; shutting off the power to people's houses in which sits elderly invalids on oxygen concentrators, stuff like that. Police started regular patrols at my old high school AFTER I graduated; the new classes do not do "good clean fun", only malice.

      As to the other dimwit responses, I might suggest that the possibilities are infinite BETWEEN total control (ie, the ultimate goal of the Democratic Party) and anarchy (the goal of most teenagers and Libertarians).

      My teenagers get no more internet or cellphone than they can responsibly manage (ie, not very much). At law, your teenager can cost you more "online" than if he was driving a car unlicensed (Google "Utah 7-year-old driver). So yes, my teenager is "censored" and the First Amendment kicks in at 18 when he becomes financially and legally responsible for his own stupidity.
  • Mostly an issue with the parents

    As a twenty year old, I am one of the first of the
    generation to be raised around the internet. I've been
    using computers since I was extremely young and I've
    been using the internet since grade 3. Plenty plenty
    PLENTY of chances to do risky/embarrassing stuff on
    the internet. Have I ever done something on the net
    that I regret? No. I have had an email address since
    the early days of hotmail, I've had Facebook, Myspace,
    Twitter, and everything else, all of them pretty
    nearly since conception. Never have I posted a picture
    that I could later regret.

    My tech-illiterate parents had the sense to realize
    that this new-fangled internet wasn't going to go away
    and that I was going to be using it for the rest of my
    life. So the first thing they did was learn a bit
    about it and the dangers surrounding it. Therefore,
    ever since my childhood, the rules have been thus: no
    posting anything that you wouldn't want your
    grandmother to see, never agree to meet a stranger
    (and never believe that the person you're talking to
    is who they say they are), and the golden rule applies
    even in the digital world. I was given free reign of
    the internet with no imposing supervision. But I
    always knew that if I got caught once breaking any of
    those rules, and the hammer would come down hard. It
    was never worth it to try breaking the rules, because,
    really, they're pretty easy to live by, not to mention
    the fact that I knew the repercussions of breaking any
    of those rules, beyond the punishment from my parents.

    The message: Parents need to let their kids grow up
    (ie: don't obsessively monitor your kid's internet
    usage) but give them a set of reasonable rules to live
    by and the reasons why you should always follow those
    • Mostly an issue with the parents

      Very well put.
      Dell-Bill B
  • RE: Shock Horror 'Social Media': Who Will Save/Train the Children?

    Too late. The future belongs to China.
  • Bad News, Good News

    The bad news is that as soon as you get on the internet, you have probably given away all your rights to privacy. The good news is there are so many of us, who is going to have time to track everyone?

    • The Sharks

      >who is going to have time to track everyone?

      The large numbers theory is seen in the evolutionary development of schools of fish. As a group, they're too big to take on. So sharks attack targets based on several strategies. Why did Willie Sutton rob banks? That's were the money is. why do crims like mall parking lots? That's were the shoppers with money and goods are.

      Why the Internet? That's where the fish are.
  • Shock Horror 'Social Media': Who Will Save/Train the Children?

    The same somebody who will save us from all the drugs available on the street corner.....
    The kids with the smarts will save themselves.