Maybe they don’t either. Maybe you should both find out.

Salvo Magazine has begun to offer weekly “Salvos” on cultural trends, all worth heeding, and many disturbing. (Thanks, Jerry Janquart!) The current one alerts us to a theme covered at Connecting, of teen exposure to much more damaged and damaging people via the internet than they would necessarily find on their own in their real world communities:

Only 61% of the parents surveyed say they check the websites their teens visit, or look at their social media profiles. Only a little more than half of parents have “friended” their teens on Facebook, Twitter or other social media. Less than half look at their teens’ text messages or know the password to their email accounts or cell phones.

Old news, you say? Parents have never known what kids were up to!

Sorry. Today kids could be up to things they would have found much harder to even locate in traditional offline communities.

Salvo points to a recent article by Naomi Schaefer Riley at the New York Post: How the Internet is defeating America’s parents:

“They’re just so overwhelmed, they’re acting like ostriches,” says psychologist Wendy Mogel. The author of “Blessings of a Skinned Knee,” Mogel says that “parents who would never let their kids have ice cream for breakfast or drive cars without a license have just given up” when it comes to technology.

Can you imagine parents 50 years ago saying that they never visit the places their kids go? Or that they’ve never met their friends’ parents?

Actually, the friends or their parents may not even exist or be what they seem.

Given that the news is filled with stories of high school sexting scandals, bullying on Facebook and kids accessing hardcore porn and being contacted by strangers online, it’s hard to imagine what these parents are thinking.

Even if they wanted to start paying attention now, less than half of parents know the password to their teens’ email accounts or cells and only a third know the password to at least one of their teens’ social-media accounts. More.

The warning is timely because we’re not just talking about sexting and such.

A kid could be famous on a network parents don’t know exists. That’s a little unsettling, but maybe harmless.

But she could be recruited online to marry a jihadi and live for martyrdom.

Those of us who didn’t realize that our young friend was a star on YouNow might not know if she was a soon-to-be “caliphette” either.

The problems go well beyond issues around personal privacy. The teen may not realize that it is illegal in most places to join an identified terrorist group.

Salvo also offers in the same e-dispatch, a guide to useful porn blockers by former CBS news producer Marcia Siegelstein who notes that, while no system is perfect, filtering technology is better than it’s ever been. Yes. For example, e-mail spam filters recently forced a “Nigerian prince” to abdicate.

Keep in mind, however, that schools may be lobbied by sexual pressure groups to disable their filters so that teens can explore their sexuality, as noted here.

Indeed, porn is increasingly a normal part of online life. As Siegelstein tells us,

According to one estimate, there are currently more than four million pornographic websites in operation. If you picture dirty old men when you think of who’s watching internet porn, it will surprise you to learn that the largest group of viewers of online pornography is children between the ages of 12 and 17. … A Canadian study found that among 13- and 14-year-olds, 90 percent of boys and 70 percent of girls reported accessing sexually explicit media content at least once. There is evidence that much exposure is accidental, often happening in the course of doing homework. More.

Internet dating has certainly helped to mainstream porn and commercialize Brave New World. More and more young people try to satisfy curiosity while avoiding hurt (as they think) by living online

We can learn some eye-openers about the early sexualization of girls, typefied by Halloween skankwear. New media drive the trend in part:

Many girls live out their lives on social media sites like Facebook—or at least the lives they want their peers to see. And that’s the trouble. For many, sharing on social media isn’t about expressing who they really are; it’s about creating a persona. As one 17-year-old told Sax regarding Facebook, “It’s not about being authentic. It’s about being cool.” There’s a kind of hyper-connectedness and a need to track what everyone else is doing, which leaves girls little time to reflect on who they really are or want to become.

Some things, as it happens, are actual, not virtual: HIV is making a comeback, due to the hookup culture facilitated through dating apps.

Another actual reality is the increased mental health problems among teens who use social media heavily. They may partly stem from living an illusory life online.

That is, teens used to complain that they were bored by the people they were forced to live with. And now they are surrounded by fascinating people who may not exist or be anything like what they seem. That used to be diagnostic of mental problems.

See also: Our fake Facebook friends probably grew up on a click farm

Never was the advice to get out and meet real people who know other real people in our own communities more important than we will see in this vid:


Denyse O’Leary is a Canadian journalist, author, and blogger.

Denyse O’Leary is an author, journalist, and blogger who has mainly written popular science and social science. Fellow Canadian Marshall McLuhan’s description of electronic media as a global village...