COLUMN: Teens online: Should 'old farts' just stop being shocked?
Parents have a lot of concerns about what their teens do online, according to the new Pew study we’ve consulted this week. We’ve talked about common worries parents have, how they intervene by setting parental controls and talking with their kids, and the ways in which teens thwart their parents’ interventions and do the very things their parents fret about—talking with and meeting strangers, viewing adult material, posting questionable content and photos and potentially harming their reputations and future prospects.
One of our readers on AnnArbor.com, which syndicates OurValues.org, had this reaction: “This will only be shocking to old farts. I am a mom and was a teen when the internet became common in households. The very first thing I did was look for porn and talk to strangers online.”
This comment made me think of three possible perspectives on the whole issue of parents, teens, and online privacy. Which one of these three comes closest to your view?
1. Overblown concerns: Perhaps all the hoopla, worry and concern expressed by respondents to the Pew study are out of proportion to the real risks and dangers out there. In particular, older parents might be overly worried because they just don’t get it. The risks and dangers are overblown.
2. Thwarting parents is just part of growing up: There may be real dangers out there, but taking risks and outwitting your parents is part of growing up. It’s a natural process that all generations have gone through.
3. Real dangers and risks: The third view point is that this issue is not overblown, and while outwitting parents is great fun and part of growing up, the dangers and risks are unique because growing up takes place, in part, in the online world.
As we reflect on our discussion this week, which of these three views comes closest to your own?