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Despite what many adults believe privacy matters to youth. More and more, though, youth are finding that their actions online are monitored – by parents, teachers, and corporations.
Someone encountering the Internet for the first time might be forgiven for assuming it was created specifically for teenagers. Indeed, the Internet could reasonably be said to have been aging backwards since its birth – the domain first of scientists and the military, then of university students in the 1990s and now children and teenagers.
Watching YouTube: Extraordinary Videos by Ordinary People
By Michael Strangelove
University of Toronto Press , 265 pages, $29.95
The YouTube video “Ultimate Dog Tease” has jumped from 15 million to 37 million views since the beginning of May 2011. The “JK Wedding Entrance Dance” has hit 67 million views since it was launched on YouTube. These two videos have more followers than some TV shows. They're fun, they're silly and, like YouTube as a medium, they are worth celebrating.
Educational games have had a troubled history. At their worst, they have been neither educational nor games; even at their best they have faced scepticism from educators, game designers and especially children. The standard response to being given an educational game – This is supposed to be fun? – might be compared to finding a Brussels sprout at the centre of a Tootsie Pop. Teachers, meanwhile, are rightly concerned that the educational content of these games might be outweighed by the entertainment value.
Young people today spend large amounts of time sharing parts of their personal lives online playing games, “checking in” with geolocation apps, posting photos and catching up with friends through social media. But despite this openness, privacy does indeed matter to youth, especially with their online actions being increasingly monitored by parents, educators, and corporations.
In the last year or two many writers and researchers have been trying to correct the common perception that young people do not care about privacy. While the public may finally be getting the message that teenagers do value their privacy -- as they define it -- the idea that younger children have any personal information worth protecting is still a new one.
With the tremendous success and spread of social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, along with home-broadcasting sites such as YouTube and Flickr, many people have become concerned about what effect they will have on our attitudes towards privacy. Now a new question has arisen: whether Facebook postings violate the Youth Criminal Justice Act if they identify suspects or victims covered under the act.
It's been widely said that attention is the currency of the 21st Century. In an age where media occupy an increasingly central role in our lives, the need to have that media focused on you becomes intense. For no-one is this more true than for children and teens, who now expect to be connected twenty-four hours a day and for whom the Internet and cell phones are essential parts of their social lives.
One of the most famous images of online life is the New Yorker cartoon captioned “On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog.” The cartoon, published in 1993, was hugely influential in fixing an image in the public imagination of the Internet as a place where anonymity reigned. It did not take long for that humorous view of anonymity to take on a darker cast, as parents began to fear that Internet predators would use this invisibility to lure their children in the guise of twelve-year-old girls.
“Who steals my purse steals trash,” Shakespeare wrote, “but he that filches from me my good name robs me of that which not enriches him, and makes me poor indeed.”
Today these words are truer than ever, with one exception: now “he that filches my good name” can enrich himself from it. On Thursday, October 16, CTV News Ottawa at 6:00 will be featuring a story on protecting yourself from identity theft.