Teenagers today meet, interact, and converse in an ever-increasing digital manner. It seems like overnight, they’ve gone from a dial-up generation to a digital logon generation. We are living in a time when parents can no longer chaperone their teenager in every conversation with their friends, accompany them at every social event or outing, or police their daily activities. Most conversations, activities, and interaction with teenagers are taking place with no supervision, no rules, and no boundaries. The proof is found in the increasing popularity of MySpace, Facebook, and two-way text messaging.
The question for parents today are, “Do I really know what my teenager is doing? Do I know what my teenager is saying? Do I know where my teenager is going when he or she leaves my presence? What’s really going on in my teen’s life? How do I log into his or her world?”
Today, we live in a 24/7 connected world where what’s called “age compression” is happening with teenagers. What was the norm for a 20-year old ten years ago has become the norm for a 14-year old today. That is AMAZING to me!
And more than likely, most teenagers are increasingly living out their lives online. They’re engaging in deep, intimate, and intense personal conversations online that you REALLY need to be aware of! These deep, intimate, and intense conversations are being broadcast daily on worldwide at a virtually unstoppable pace. To put it mildly, a teenager’s heart, soul, thoughts, and ideas are being exposed on the Internet for the entire world to see.
There was a recent study released that said 58% of girls and 51% of boys ages 12-17 have created an online profile. The number is the highest with boys and girls between the ages of 15-17 with 70% being girls and 57% being boys. If you are interested in getting an idea of what I’m talking about, check out www.myspace.com/pastorjwallace, stroll down to my friend list and click view all. As you scroll through my friends, you will see several pictures of students. Click on the picture of the student and check out their virtual world!
While this information may be alarming, the Internet also provides opportunities to be involved in a teenager’s life. If you want to find out what’s going on with a teenager, you’re going to have to log on if you want to get connected. Effective parenting in 2008 has to move from just preparation for college, the purchase of the first car, and cooking 101. It also involves helping teens navigate our multi-media world.