Online Teenage Angst

Another one of those the-internet-is-bad-for-our-kids report has just been released.  A review is at the Irish Times.   Here are the stats –

  • “22 per cent of teenagers were victims of some form of bullying online, while 4 per cent said they experienced it frequently”.
  • “More than three quarters said they had not reported the behavior”.
  • “70 per cent of Irish teenagers said they had been warned of the risks of being online”
  • “More than half admitted that they do not always use privacy settings to restrict who can see their personal information”
  • “45 per cent said they would post images and personal information on the internet, and only 11 per cent of teenagers said they never do”
  • “55 per cent of Irish teens have access to the internet without any restrictions from their parents”.

Do you remember being a teen?  It was a time of trying things out, experimenting, finding your identity and figuring out who you are. Todays teens have the internet to help them with all this. If you had the internet when you were a teen, what would you have done with it? Would your parents / guardians have been freaked by the media scare-mongering about the dangers and restricted your access? Would they have encouraged internet exploration in a safe and constructive manner? Are you one of those parents / guardians today?

Parenting is arguably one of the toughest jobs on the job list. The balance of allowing teens freedom of expression, space to grow and experiment but yet reining in more dubious behavior is not easy. How do you react to surveys like this one today – freak and ban internet access (the over-reaction), completely ignore it and continue to allow Tina Teen to continue whatever she gets up to on the internet (the under-reaction). The right balance is different for every parent / child pairing and is not easy to identify.

A feature of the survey is that teens are aware of the dangers online but yet contribute to it by revealing too much of themselves.  Why? That’s the real question. Did the survey ask this question? If education isn’t getting the message across, what will work?  What about the perpetrators of the bullying (I’m taking the teens here, the adult bullies and other abusers is a totally different field)? Who’s taking the teenage bullies to task? How are their parents likely to react to this survey?

One thing is for sure – there are no easy answers!  Life is as tough for the bully as it is for the victim – that’s a truth that far precedes the age of the internet.

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Posted on February 10, 2009, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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