As society overinvests in protecting kids from experimenting with life outdoors, teens have moved online and responsible adults are trying to develop protective strategies for managing the risks of cyberspace.
Our focus has been to educate kids about the dangers on line from paedophiles grooming vulnerable kids, to cyber bulling and digital tattoos and sexting. We have reacted with software programs that block, monitor and track their activities, or simply looking over their shoulder or being guilty of digital stalking justifying this behaviour as good intent. This wired generation respond to efforts to ban one form of media by switching to another form or accessing a friend’s technology. Banning also fails to create resilient kids who learn from mistakes and cope with consequences with the support of informed adults.
We need to enable teens to develop strategies to negotiate their public and digital lives and advocate for themselves. They need to be able to assess risks for themselves using appropriate cues, manage complex social situations and know who/where to go to for help.
Having the conversations with kids about their interests and their fears; what their friends are experiencing and what their aspirations are makes the adult their friend and supporter.