The Internet Is (Still) Not Hurting Children
CNN ran an opinion story yesterday with the unfortunate title: Is the Internet hurting children? Of course, this is done to provoke debate: they know what they’re doing.
But as I read through the story I couldn’t help but notice the author’s attempt to color the internet (which is actually neutral) as automatically detrimental to kids vs. placing any responsibility on parents. As is typical in these types of stories.
What also strikes me in these anti-technology stories is they never seem to take into account or reference how the previous generation functioned. Children today are part of a vibrant media-literate culture which encourages collaboration through art, knowledge and projects on a global scale.
The next generation of kids will be not only media-literate, they will be active participants by default instead of passive consumers. Instead of the past where children would consume hours of TV a day — a huge % of their waking time gone, forever — they’ll be active and involved in the media creation process.
Imagine a future generation who accept information and ideas not through top-down authority, but through research and each other. A generation able to deftly fact check ideas and not blindly consume stories or traditions because they’re presented as truth. Imagine a generation empowered to question everything. This will reshape those with power in the future.
Further, with so much educational materials at their fingertips the opportunity for children to learn is limitless: many universities such as MIT and conferences like TED open source their materials for global consumption. Enterprising young individuals encouraged and inspired by their parents have opportunity at their fingertips in a way that was never before possible.
It is unfortunate that some seek to paint technology in a dark light, as if it is something parents should fear. This is the wrong mindset and not very helpful. Instead, media need to be framing the shift for our culture that programming is the new literacy. That is, if we want our economy to succeed in the future.
Update: Techdirt has picked this up too.