My children belong to the first fully on-line generation.
The kids shows they watched on Cbeebies all had web sites, they learned to use a mouse at the same time as a pen. They regularly catch-up on programmes via the I-player and clamour for e-mail, MSN and a Facebook page. (The answer is no by the way, still too young.)
While schools are very good at teaching children to deal with the threat of cyber bullying and the dangers of chat rooms I wonder how thought-out their policies are on the entirety of our children’s on-line lives.
Personal branding wonks would have you believe that every student needs an on-line presence. If you’re looking for work and you can’t be Googled then you’re no-one. You need a shiny Facebook page with all your Duke of Edinburgh awards and your voluntary work up there. But when does all this start ?
If I say yes to Facebook in a couple of years time, how much damage is my daughter going to do to her ‘on-line reputation’ before she is 18 ? I already have a couple of teens as friends on Facebook. I think they thought it was a really cool idea, but I can see what they are up to, I really can !
Our data, our thoughts, our activities, it’s all out there and the technology certainly exists to collect it and use it. Whether that ends up being for against us is a moot point. In a ‘1984’ style world then we’re all doomed. Then again if you knew that a crime was being planned on-line wouldn’t you want the security services to use that information to stop it ?
It is happening already by the way. See this article from Wired US Spies buy stake in firm that monitors blogs and tweets
It is far more likely that our data will be used, in increasingly inventive ways, to sell us things.
I want my children to know all this and to be prepared.
See this article from PC Advisor which lists ten of the risks of sharing information with people on Facebook and Twitter and talk them over with your kids before you let them sign up.