Digital Divide 2.0

The Digital Divide...we've all heard about "it". And many are doing something about "it". And "it" tends to refer to groups in society who because they don't have access to the Internet are "left behind".

But the digital divide is not between socio-economic classes alone...it's at our Kitchen Table.

How many of our kids blog? How many of our kids read their parent's blogs? How many parents read their kid's blogs? Are our kids members of "online communities" and do their family members know?  Do they Instant Message? How many IDs do they have? If you have kids, ask them tonight at the dinner table. You'll find a digital divide.

At a conference last year, I attended a panel of Teenage bloggers. One girl blogged about fashion...and she has huge readership and probably makes quite a bit on her Google Ads. One girl blogged about family life as a first generation american. Both of these girls have a large readership, comments and a "community". They are influencers.

When asked: Do your parents blog?  They answered...er...I dunno.  When asked: Do your parents read your blog? They answered...er...I hope not.  One answered that her mom has never used a computer before.

These were disturbing answers. Some would say it's just teenagers wanting their independence, their space.

I would say--it's The Digital Divide.

I find parenting in this new world challenging. But when I sit and really think about it, it's no different than parenting in the "real" world.  Myspace is a Public place, just like a shopping mall, a library or a movie theater.

And Parents are freaked out by it. Err...why? Because they don't know about privacy controls, they don't have a feeling for what their kids are doing on Myspace, or who is there "watching". 

Well, it's exactly the same as dropping your kids off at the movie theater or the Mall. Before you allow your kids to do these things in public without adult supervision, you probably have "the talk" like:

  \* If you see someone watching you, tell someone (an adult) immediately.
  \* Don't hang with the noisy kids because they'll get you thrown out.
  \* If you don't like something that's happening, LEAVE. (e.g. call me and I'll come and meet you)

Same thing applies on Myspace. or FaceBook. Or any other online community.

Now, there are some "parents" that give parenting a bad wrap. There are some parents who trample their kids rights (Kids bill of rights is another blog post I guess...) their privacy, (yes, Teenagers are entitled to privacy) and the rights of their kids' friends.  If you would not hesitate to toss your teenager's room looking for "contraband" then you probably would not hesitate to eavesdrop on their telephone calls. And that probably applies to email, AIM and myspace activities, etc. And so the teenagers hide their activities. It's not that we don't TRUST THEM, is that they don't TRUST US.

That's horrible isn't it?

There are so many "parents" doing the wrong thing for the right reasons.

Right thing to do:  "know" what your kids have going on Online. 
Wrong thing to do:  Sacrefice their privacy to ease your fears.
Right thing to do: "know" the difference between trouble and bad behavior.
Wrong thing to do: Assume all bad bahavior is Trouble.
Right thing to do: Make sure your kids know the difference between trouble and bad behavior
Wrong thing to do: Assume that they don't.

LKR


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