Imagine that your child is wandering around the city at night. Or imagine that he is organizing a party at your house, and you don’t know anything about it. And what would you say if your son or daughter made duplicate keys to your house and gave them to complete strangers. If your child has access to the Internet, then such situations are quite likely. “The Internet offers different opportunities for communication. There is a bulletin board, real—time text message forwarding, and the sites of the so-called social network,” says Science News magazine.
Young people quickly learned to use the “benefits” of the Internet, which is available in almost every corner of the earth. For example, in 2021, almost 9 out of 10 people aged 12 to 17 used the Internet in the United States. Today, few will deny the fact that the Internet has certain advantages. However, do not ignore the dangers that he hides in himself. For example, many young people wander unsupervised in cyberspace. Some of the children begin to communicate with people whom neither they nor their parents would ever invite to their home.
Some naive children recklessly tell strangers about their personal affairs, share their own thoughts, and also post their photos on the Internet. According to Professor Zheng Yan of New York State University, young people “often do not realize how many people, including sexual perverts, have access to this information.”
So let’s take a closer look at what many children do on the Internet. This will help parents recognize potential dangers and understand what their children are really looking for. Then they will be able to determine how to meet the genuine needs of their children. And young people, in turn, will see how to fight temptations in order to remain good people.
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Help the youth to avoid traps
We live in an extremely changing world. Both lifestyle and fashion trends are changing, and thanks to modern technologies, changes in the world are becoming even more obvious. What was fashionable yesterday is already outdated today, what is popular today will be out of use tomorrow. Such rapid changes have a significant impact on young people.
There is no doubt that the rapid development of modern technology has greatly affected the younger generation. For example, in many countries, mobile phones and computers have become an integral part of the means of communication among young people. Also, social network sites open up a whole ocean of opportunities for young users. Here’s what a nineteen-year-old girl from Australia says: “In real life, you can not be friends with anyone, and suddenly you have hundreds of friends on the Internet.”
Everyone will probably agree that mobile phones and the Internet make our life much more convenient. However, many seem to have become dependent on these funds. Stanford University professor Donald Roberts notes that some students, even during a short break between classes, cannot do without telephone conversations. “As for me,” says the professor, “without this kind of doping, they feel a certain discomfort — something like: “I can’t stand silence.”
Some of the young people even recognize this dependence. “I have to constantly send messages by phone. After all, this is how I keep in touch with my friends,” says sixteen—year-old Stephanie. — When I come home, I immediately turn on my computer and “sit” on the Internet… sometimes until 3 o’clock in the morning.” Stephanie’s monthly phone bill ranges from $100 to $500. “Now I owe my parents more than $2,000, because I constantly exceed the cost of my unlimited package. But I’m so used to the mobile phone that I just can’t live without it.”
However, the problem is not only about money. This was noticed by anthropologist Elinor Ochs, who studies the problems of family life. She found out that in two out of three cases, when the father came home from work, his wife and children did not even notice him. They just didn’t take their eyes off their devices. Mrs. Oks says: “We saw how difficult it is for parents to look into the world in which their children live.” As the study showed, parents, in fact, moved away from their children when they were absorbed in some activities.
How secure are social networking sites?
Many parents and teachers are excited about how much time young people spend on the Internet, visiting social networking sites. On these sites, users can create web pages on which they post photos, videos and blogs, that is, online event logs.
Such sites especially attract young users, because they allow you to keep in touch with friends. In addition, a young person, having created a web page, gets the opportunity to express himself, he can openly express his opinion. And there is nothing surprising here, because in adolescence a child begins to know himself and, sharing his feelings with others, seeks to find understanding.
A common trap of the Internet is that many people create a virtual image, posing as the kind of person they want to be. One fifteen – year – old boy tells: “There’s a guy in my class who says he’s 21 and that he lives in Las Vegas.” In fact, both guys live about 1600 kilometers from this American city.
Such deception is not uncommon. “You can do anything on the Internet,” admits an 18-year-old girl from Australia.— You can pretend to be a completely different person, because no one knows you anyway. This adds courage, and you start telling different stories about yourself to seem more interesting. You can put your photos in which you look like you would never allow yourself in real life. You can write things that you would never say out loud. And it seems that you get away with everything, because no one knows where you are and who you are.”
Like any other means of communication, social network sites can be used for their intended purpose, or they can become a dangerous tool in the hands of intruders. Parents, do you know what your children are doing on the Internet? Are they using their time wisely? It should be remembered that, wandering through cyberspace, young people expose themselves to serious dangers. Let’s pay attention to some of them.
The Unattractive facets of cyberspace
Thanks to the anonymity provided by the Internet, sexual perverts have great opportunities. Teenagers can fall into a trap if they post any personal information online or agree to a meeting with an Internet acquaintance. According to the book “Parenting. The 911 service”, some disagree with this and believe that “the threat of violence or abuse of children is much more real at home or on the street” than on the Internet. “However,” the book says, “most parents are shocked by how perverts are trying to insidiously get into their homes through computer monitors and corrupt their children.”
However, this is not the only way to abuse a computer network. Some teenagers engage in cyber bullying by creating websites that mercilessly mock, threaten, boycott, harass and humiliate others. They are also used by email, chat rooms, etc. to spread gossip. The director of a website dedicated to Internet security issues suggests that about 80% of children aged 10 to 14 have experienced cyber bullying to some extent.
Of course, hooliganism has been around for a long time. But now rumors, gossip and slander can spread much faster and reach the most remote corners of the earth. In addition, hooliganism is becoming more and more violent. Often, the cameras of mobile phones can shoot brutal and at the same time humiliating scenes of human dignity. This often happens in school locker rooms or showers. Such images are placed on the Internet and sent to everyone.
Public concern is growing
This problem prompted employees of the Department of Justice and Public Safety in New Jersey (USA) to send special letters to parents and guardians. Parents were urged to “help overcome the problem of children using the Internet for the wrong purposes, both at school and outside of it.” Particular attention was paid to the placement of personal information and photos on the network. Sites where such information is available to everyone often attract morally degraded teenagers and adults. Addressing the parents, the letter says: “You have to realize that there are real reasons for concern. By learning how your children use the Internet, you will be able to protect them from many dangers.”
Some parents are completely uninterested in what their children are doing on the Internet. One mother, who closely monitors how her sixteen-year-old daughter uses the Internet, says: “If parents found out what their children are putting online and what topics they are discussing, they would be stunned.” An Internet security specialist noted that some young people exhibit photos that have clearly sexual overtones.
Are all these fears just an obsession of overly concerned adults? Statistics show that no. For example, in some places, almost a third of boys and girls aged 15 to 17 had sexual intercourse. More than half of teenagers aged 13 to 19 years admitted that they had oral sex.
Is modern technology involved in this? Undoubtedly. According to the New York Times, “mobile communications and the Internet have given young people an unprecedented opportunity to hide from prying eyes. Now it’s much easier for them to pick up someone.” And indeed, to arrange a secret meeting with a person of the opposite sex, it is enough just to press a few keyboard buttons. According to one study, about four out of five girls
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