Regulating children of the 21st century

“My kids will never touch this amount of technology” – Georgia Stjelja, future mother of children who will not depend on technology to be entertained.

Not only have I said, liked, and laughed at this comment, but I believe it serves a significance in the kind of regulations of children in the 21st century. Growing up in a European family I was taught and forced to understand rules that stopped me from going over the boundary. These regulations varied from not being allowed to watch Mature Audience movies, to “no phones at the table” – which even at 20 years of age still applies.

Rules such as these have kept our family at bay and respectable to our elders and society. These rules have taught us to listen, respect, and understand those around us. But when individuals come into contact with the online world, do the rules change? Are there even any rules?

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This was another concept my parents put into place when my brother and I first begun using the messenger program, MSN. The use of “stranger danger” was thrown around more often, and the overlooking eyes of my parents started as they sat there on a random night to oversee conversations. So has the use of regulating the use of the internet and technology use improved? Or have people become so used to technology based settings that they have begun overlooking certain circumstances?

On the one hand it can, especially when focused on information technology, provoke utopian visions of a childhood radically unlike anything known before: at ease with arcane knowledge, empowered, connected and freed from the constraints of locality. At the same time these very visions promote fears about the despoliation of childhood and the transformation, for the bad, of relationships between the generations.

Although we tend to see these issues as being new, similar promises and concerns have accompanied each new wave of media technology throughout the past century. From the beginning, technology has created anxiety throughout society, so for children to be adapting and relying on the use of technology, society has slowly become used to the idea – except my parents…

As the Australian government implicated the movement of giving high school students the opportunity to use government funded laptops in school, learning itself changed. But unlike using the computer at home, these laptops had restricted sites and students (me) were often looking for someone to hack the system. The high stakes of losing your laptop were put at risk for 60 minutes of listening to YouTube or logging back into Facebook.

 

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