They had a special event over at the 7th grader’s middle school yesterday, in which a special guest speaker lectured students on the “dangers of the Internet”.
This is something like the fourth program this year for parents or students about the evils of high technology. So far we had the evils of violent video games, the dangers of instant messenger, something or other about how you should never surf bad places or the gremlins will get you and more that I forget. (The stupidest by far was the violent video games talk, by one Jack Thompson. I wrote a letter complaining about that one.) The other talks have been optional evening events, but this one was during school hours, so it was the first one that one of us actually attended.
The 7th grader found it all rather dull. He had on board the idea that it would not be too bright a move to agree to meet a stranger that one ‘met’ online (and indeed is mostly interested in single-player games at the moment). He found the repetition of this idea for more than 50 minutes to be rather boring.
“She talked for the entire period,” he moaned. “And after the first few minutes I just sat there and thought ‘you won’t get me with this Jedi Mind Control’“.
I more than half suspect he is thinking the same thing when we talk to him…
We had an exciting episode around here when a deviant Runescape player pretended to work for Jagex (the company that produces Runescape) and tried to deceitfully obtain passwords. S/he failed, and got reported to the Runescape overlords in the process! Not a bad learning experience, really.
I suspect more strongly all the time that children are in far more danger of being damaged by adults’ attempts to protect them than by 99% of the stuff we try to protect them from.
I think the problem is the growing anonymity of life. We’ve gone from a small village where everyone is held accountable by fellow residents, to large towns where people do things because few are watching, to the Internet where people believe they’re completely anonymous.
And for the typical teenager you have to be monotonously repitive because 1) they believe they’re invincible 2) they’re distracted by so many things that you have to repeat the message to get it heard 3) parents aren’t enforcing the limits at home.
But maybe you shouldn’t do all of the repition in one attempt.