On Social Networks:
Social networks, blogs, photo sharing; there are many ways teens can communicate with friends and family online. Unfortunately, there are also crafty strangers, including drug dealers, who want to communicate with your teen. These people may initially seem to be harmless individuals, lure your teen in by gaining their trust, and then start encouraging risky behavior by sending links to pro-drug sites, notices of parties and so on. A search on MySpace.com, a social networking site used by millions of teens, turns up tens of thousands of people writing openly about marijuana.1 Teens can even upload pro-marijuana quizzes, such as the one shown on this page, without a second thought about the damage it could do to their futures.
On Text messaging:
Teens are using their cell phones in very creative ways. Instead of passing notes in class, they sometimes send text messages. In addition to text messaging, teens can also access the Internet and download pictures, videos, and music with their cell phones. Itâ€™s an instant source of information, from finding out about the latest parties to contacting the closest drug dealer. They can also receive messages from anyone, friend or not, as long as the other person has the cell phone number. This can include spammers, scammers, identity thieves, online predators, and cyberbullies.
Teens can also be alerted to a text in very discrete ways, either by downloading a ring tone that is out of pitch range of most adults or by putting their phones on vibrate. Newer cell phones enable teens to capture the moment with photos, ring tones or short video clips â€“ a fun and mostly harmless feature â€“ except when inappropriate images are captured and shared for all to see.
Let me begin by assuring you that I understand the desire for parents to protect their children. However, looking at this information, I see that it holds the same irrational fear that every generation has about it’s successors. This content is published to spread fear uncertainty and doubt about technological progression. This reminds me of a great discussion I found a while back (I can’t seem to find it now) on the morality of drugs. Of themselves plants like Marijuana and Coca are not evil, the same as a rock sitting on the ground is not evil. Our decision of whether they are evil things or not is determined by HOW people use them. If these plants are used by someone who later commits a crime, then the drugs are seen as bad. If the rock is thrown in anger at someone else, then the rock is also seen as bad. Technology is just a platform that is neither good or bad. Its morality is determined by its users.
So if your trust in your teenager is low enough that you believe they are threatened by these platforms, don’t blame technology – work on your relationship with your child instead. I promise that the next generation won’t run the world into the ground – its never happened in written history.