Adults: Lagging in Internet Understanding

Most of your teachers, parents, and “authorities” are Gen X’s, Baby Boomers, and a few Millennials. Marc Prensky describes this group as “Digital Immigrants”2, and they weren’t raised with smartphones or 24/7 internet. Therefore, some adults may adapt to new technology with ease, while others struggle to achieve digital proficiency.

Adults warn kids about dangers and say “Kids today think they know everything.” Adults forgot when they had a “teen brain” filled with hormones, human biases and a ½ formed prefrontal cortex. Until life happened (i.e., experience) making them more aware of suspicious people and situations. The difference between then and now, all our moments of bad judgment were not captured forever on the internet!

Kids: Pioneers of a Whole New World

Dr. Jean Twenge Professor of Psychology at San Diego State University, and author of more than 140 scientific publications, has labeled you the “iGen” generation3. Born between 1995 and 2012, members of this generation have grown up with smartphones. They “have an Instagram account before they start high school, and do not remember a time before the internet.”

Marc Prensky refers to you as “Digital Natives” and states there is already evidence your brain is forming differently resulting in your generation learning differently. As the pioneers of this new frontier, you will be the ones to change schools, laws, communication equipment, and business. Because of the speed, and how, you take in knowledge, your unlimited access to information and access to people around the world since birth, you have been exposed to more than any generation before you.

The Downside…

Previously predators had to be in the same place as the victim to hurt them, instant access to the web changed that. Now, as connected members of the global village, our entire lives happen online with no training or history to guide us. The internet is not evil, but like any tool, it can be used for good or evil. Right now, it is a predators’ paradise. They can access you, and those you love, from anywhere.

You are young, enthusiastic risk-takers and you can go places on the web most adults don’t even know exists. What you don’t understand is that predators have your number. You lack real-world exposure, the filter of experience, and you still make decisions based heavily on the human biases you were born with, which is extremely dangerous.