Cybertraps for the Young: Your Child LOVES Technology

It is my pleasure to welcome Frederick Lane to the EIE Blog. Fred is an author, attorney  educational consultant, expert witness, and lecturer who has appeared on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, the BBC, and MSNBC. He has written seven books, including most recently “Cybertraps for the Young” (NTI Uppstream, 2011). All of his books are available on amazon.com or through his website.  Fred will be joining us for the next 5 weeks as a guest blogger on the EIE blog sharing excerpts from his book “Cybertraps for the Young.”

Cybertraps for the Young: Your Child LOVES Technology

There was a time, not so long ago, when computers hid in the bowels of universities and corporations; when it took a quarter and a trip to the local arcade to play a video game; when the only way to make a phone call outside your house was in a glass booth with an outdated phone book; when a photo-processing clerk would be the first person to lay eyes on your vacation pictures.

Things have changed a bit over the last twenty-five years or so. Now, each of these activities can be accomplished with a device small enough to fit in the palm of your hand—and, increasingly, all these tasks can all be accomplished with a single device.

Our children are growing up in a world that is awash in remarkable digital technology. Kids seem astonishingly well suited to this world, as they effortlessly navigate complicated menus, rapidly master new programs, and nimbly text, tilt, and click away. It’s no wonder that post- Web/Millennial children are often referred to as “digital natives,” implying (correctly) that the rest of us are just strangers in an increasingly strange land.

Statistics offer some insight into just how much kids like technology. According to a recent study by NPD Group, a market researcher of technology trends, 82 percent of kids between the ages of two and seventeen—55.7 million U.S. children—describe themselves as “video gamers.” That includes a surprising number of kids who may not even be able to read the survey questions. All told, 9.7 million children between the ages of two and five reportedly play video games.

The adoption of other technology by kids is just as enthusiastic—and just as startling. Nearly four years ago, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that roughly a quarter of all children between the ages of four and six were using personal computers at least fifty minutes a day. Amazon.com offers more than twenty-five digital cameras designed specifically for children aged two to four, and the average age for a child’s first mobile phone is now under ten.

On their own, these cool technologies pose few legal risks to children (although they may have other effects, such as increasing distractibility and decreasing exercise—topics for another book). The real problems arise with the three C’s of technology: communication, capability, and convergence. More and more often, we’re handing our children remarkably powerful devices long before they have the wisdom or maturity to understand the consequences of misusing them.

Children are using computers and mobile phones to bully and harass each other. They’re using the cameras on their phones to take nude photos of themselves and others, and to send those photos to dozens or hundreds of other children. They’re using a variety of electronic devices to cheat in school, steal intellectual property, and commit a wide variety of crimes, from identity theft to hacking.

In short, it has never been more important for parents to take the time to understand how every device works, to think through the consequences of giving these devices to their children— regardless of their age—and to talk with their kids about how to use their electronic gadgets responsibly.

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4 Comments

  1. Definitely need more information on Internet & Our kids!!! I’m searching for ways to hack into my step daughter’s account now since she was just caught sneaking out late night with 2 girls and multiple guys. My SD is 14yrs old and lives on her phone am & pm! Now that something bad has happened, no one wants to admit the real truth. Different stories from kids and we (parents) are trying to be our own detectives to prevent the kids from hiding or blocking us from any social accounts. There is simply noway of stopping them, except at home, but the kids will have access at school to create a new account or create a “closet acct” that will track us as parents that are considered snooping. Please send me more info!

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