Understanding The Balance Of Growing Up Online

from the both-good-and-bad... dept

Henry Jenkins’ latest article for MIT’s Technology Review does an excellent job pointing out that when it comes to how people view children and the internet, it always seem to fall into two completely opposite camps: the Myth of the Columbine Generation and the Myth of the Digital Generation. Either the technology is evil, dragging kids down into a life of pornography and violence or the internet is wonderful, opening up new worlds and a wide variety of communication options. The reality, of course, is somewhere in the middle. Like we’ve said plenty of times, the technology can be used for both good and bad, and that doesn’t change no matter how old you are. However, it’s much easier to focus on just one aspect, and Jenkins talks about a research report that looks carefully at both the benefits and the risks of children being online and shows that things really aren’t that bad. Certainly some kids end up seeing pornographic images online, but most appear to be mature enough to handle it in a reasonable manner. However, a newspaper picked up the study the following day, focusing in on only the most sensational (and out of context) statement from the report, pointing out just how many kids between the age of 9 and 19 had seen porn online. Now, age 9 to 19 is a pretty wide range, and even in the age before the internet, you could bet that as kids approached 19 a fair amount of them had come across some kind of pornography at some point. When the study broke down the findings by age group, they’re not quite so shocking, and the reactions to the porn (most thinking it was no big deal and simply closing down the site) suggest that they’re mature enough, and have been raised well enough to handle such situations appropriately when they come across it.

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