Where the control lies

All this talk about how to monitor kids’ internet use is going to become moot pretty soon. According to the LA Times on May 11, MySpace now comes in a cellphone version. Although this feature is an exclusive to a few elite phones produced by a company called Helio, as we all know, it won’t be long before everyone will be able to access this version of MySpace.

And yes, these phones are being aggressively marketed to teens.

What this article brings is an underlying message: It isn’t enough for parents to simply monitor their child’s computer use. Soon it will be necessary to monitor phone use. But then what next? As technology becomes more and more complex it won’t be long before the use of some other device will need monitoring.

It boils down to the need for parents and children to communicate with each other in order to build trust between them. This can only happen if adults become familiar with the world their children live in. Grownups don’t need to — nor should they — adopt youth culture (lest they want to be ridiculed by people of all ages), but they should try to understand it so that they can draw boundaries and set limits based on an educated opinion, not fear or the latest news story or talk show feature. Adults need to ask their children questions and share concerns. Then they need to listen to the other side of the story. The positive aspects of online social networks as seen through youths’ eyes. The best rules are set when all sides of the story are heard.

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