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There’s no doubt youth have embraced mobile technology: in Canada, young people ages 13 to 24 are the largest group of wireless phone users. Today’s cell phones are personal, palm-sized entertainment and social networking tools from which teens can play games, communicate, send messages, exchange information and share videos and images.
Snapchat, the mobile app that lets users send "self-destructing" photos, has the distinction of being the only digital tool that does not have a single redeeming feature.
It goes without saying that eight years is a long time on the Internet. Between 2005, when MediaSmarts published Phase II of our Young Canadians in a Wired World research, and 2013, when we conducted the national student survey for Phase III, the Internet changed almost beyond recognition: online video, once slow and buggy, became one of the most popular activities on the Web, while social networking became nearly universal among both youth and adults.
It’s pretty amazing how tech-savvy kids are nowadays. I like to think I’m a pretty smart mamma but in certain areas my kids have me beat. The TV remote is one of the devices they understand better than I do and don’t even ask me to explain Minecraft. (Perhaps that is a different post altogether!)
Do young people care about privacy? Participants in MediaSmarts’ 2012 focus groups told us that they valued their privacy highly, despite being enthusiastic participants in platforms and activities that adults see as being about nothing but sharing and broadcasting.
I had a really interesting conversation with my 14-year-old daughter recently. She was wondering why so many adults assume that teenagers are all the same: a bunch of lazy, self-involved jokers who are glued to their devices all day. I didn’t have an answer for her, really, only that people tend to generalize, and that this is Never a Good Thing, no matter who it is we’re talking about.
It’s hard to think of a recent digital technology issue that’s captured the public imagination more than sexting. This may be because it combines elements of the classic moral panic with more modern “technopanic,” provoking worries not just about the morality of our children – and, in particular, young girls – but also about the possible effects of technology on how we grow, think and behave.
There’s a long-standing relationship between sex and the Internet. As far as back the 1980s, Usenet and local bulletin board systems were used to share pornographic text files and crude (in both senses) graphics, and people have been using digital media to form and carry out online relationships at least as long.