The digital generation

Growing up Wired: Internet Immersion

Today we are exposed to a new language of technology that changes as fast as it goes instantly ‘viral’ (or instantly global). If we aren’t paying attention, we are not keeping up with our ‘wired’ youth, who are in cyberspace, uploading; downloading; on social media with social networks; tuned in on you-tube; surfing the net; texting; gaming, chat messaging; live streaming… and the list goes on.

This is a new world for me as I was not introduced to the internet until 1995 while attending college. I was excited about it, overwhelmed by it, but very cautious at the same time. The lure of posting and sending messages on my computer that were instantly ‘out there’ was somewhat scary for me. I was raised in a ‘private domain’, where we wrote our innermost feelings in a personal diary and tucked it away safely somewhere trusting that it was ok to grow beyond our words and that they would not be held against us for the entire world to see. Now, I have learned that every time I press ‘send’ it can enter a ‘public domain.’

Unfortunately, I have learned through my work about the negative side of posting ‘too much’ personal information when youth skim over the keyboard, connecting, socializing, posting pictures and videos, and sending messages. Most youth born after 1992, have been exposed to the internet every day in some way or another as they use computers at home or school to search the internet for information. In the process, many have also sadly gained the knowledge of cyber-violence as they may themselves have experienced cyber-bullying, online luring, sexting (sending or receiving inappropriate pictures or videos) or other online activities that can have life long consequences.

Have you read our article on the consequences and dangers of sexting

Impact Of Technology On Society

With the advances of technology that changes daily, how do we as parents and grandparents hope to understand the impact of the internet and technology on youth today? We access the internet and use the technology as we need to, but our children have been immersed in it, so how do cyber-tourists like ourselves raise responsible cyber-citizens?

We start by understanding internet immersion and why is internet safety so important. Internet immersion is being connected, with instant access, anywhere, anytime with anyone. It provides for new technology learnings at home, at school, with peers and in the community with the tools readily accessible, for free or at a low cost.

How To Stay Safe Online

Internet safety means we need to be vigilant in our supervision of our children as they learn to access the internet, to teach them that they are responsible for everything they send, every time they press enter. Learning good computer literacy and etiquette are important skills for youth growing up in a diverse and technological global environment. But mostly, internet safety is about having open conversations to promote healthy behaviour online and it is key to always be a positive role-model including online, to all children and youth in our lives.

Internet Immersion

My discussion about internet immersion and internet safety will be ongoing as I hope to create a dialogue with readers about their experiences and challenges while engaging their youth with the latest technology. I will share more information about the impact of technology on youth today, to address the risks and threats that are too often a reality in our world. But, in light of that, we still need to appreciate the many ways it has improved our lives; we are connected no matter where we live if we choose to be. I know that new ‘must-have’ gadgets will be just around the corner to entertain and educate bringing new challenges for both parents and educators. We will learn together how to keep children and youth informed while teaching them healthy boundaries as they surf the net safely and securely.

Dorthe Flauer
SOS Safety Magazine