I find it disconcerting that teens live much of their lives in a virtual society. “Growing Up Online”, barely scratches the surface of the breadth and depth to which technology permeates modern society. Teens continue to struggle for independence and self-identification, but with less face-to-face interaction than in the past. Many view e-communication as reaching out to the masses.
Texting, the internet, and social networking connect many people with those otherwise unavailable to them. However, the connection is less personal, and more tenuous than real social encounters. As technology advances greater numbers of teens expose themselves to risk of predation, stunted social skills, and a skewed view of the physical world. The speed of electronic communication and the abundance of readily available information are the internet’s greatest strengths and threats, many lack ability to distinguish between the fact and fiction that abounds in cyber-space. Allowing teens to find their unique identity is crucial but should not be done in a vacuum of parental supervision or genuine social interaction.
Teens may be technologically savvy, important in a culture reliant on technology, but have fewer skills in dealing with real people. The economic divide pushes those without financial means further from those with internet access and the latest gadgets. How did we survive as teenagers without cell phones and texting? Increasing reliance on e-communication puts those unable to avail themselves of technology at greater disadvantage as they enter adulthood and the workforce. Nevertheless, these problems are not confined to the youth of the world.
Many adults disconnect from those around them spending more time in the virtual world. As with many areas of teen culture moderation is necessary, as is parental guidance. Many parents buy their child a phone with intent of keeping track of their child. The child now has the means to spend less time actually interacting with their parents, and the parent the means to become less responsibly involved in the life of their child. The propensity of many teens is escaping responsibility and accountability to authority figures by creating an electronic façade.
Living vicariously through an electronic alter ego teens post what they want, often misrepresenting themselves or their intentions with little consideration of the result of their action.
Other perspectives exist and though the film offered little depth I turned to the interviews associated with it. C.J. Pascoe’s interview was eye-opening. I realize all of Digital Youth Research’s work cannot be included...