Does "BTW, LOL @ UR VID. Gr8, ^5!" make any sense to you? I know I’d be baffled by it if someone sent it to me. (Translation: By the way, laughing out loud at your video. Great high 5!) I recently saw a commercial where the entire dialogue was in text lingo with the translation running at the bottom of the screen. And one of the points of the commercial, besides trying to sell me phone service, was that youth today get this new language and their parents don’t. It’s a new way of communicating and it changes daily, so how can we keep up? How do we ensure kids are making smart decisions when it comes to Internet and cell phone safety?
Today’s youth are at home with this language. They are growing up in a digital world and have made it their own. And just as the 50’s spawned the words “cool” and the 60’s “groovy,” youth now are creating their own lingo, partially with the expectation that their parents won’t be able to understand it. It’s part of any youth culture. But this one comes with a big difference, and it’s one that adults need to understand and help young people respond to. And that difference is a vast online world, which is providing youth with opportunities like never before; however it’s also a world in which kids and teens need adult guidance on how to use safely.
I was at a talk about the effects of the Internet and the speaker compared the Internet to an electric guitar. If you’re a good player (in other words, can use the guitar effectively and well) then the electric guitar can take good music and amplify it in a way that allows more people to hear it. However, if you’re a guitar player like me (which means you’re not a guitar player at all), well, let’s just say that it would be a painful experience on your ears and could possibly do some real damage.
The Internet, when young people use it well, can be a great source of learning, entertainment, communication and can open up a young person’s world in ways we never imagined before. However, when used improperly the Internet can cause real damage to others and to the young person themselves.
Dan Rauzi is BGCA's senior director of Technology Programs.
Boys & Girls Clubs takes Internet and media safety seriously. We provide tools and resources to help young people use the Internet to grow, expand opportunities and connect to today’s digital world. To highlight the importance of Internet safety, Boys & Girls Clubs across the country, with the support of our media safety partner Sprint, will be celebrating June Internet Safety Month, with special activities that will help Club members and their communities make good choices in using the Internet.
Kdz 2day nd net sfty. Clbr8 ISM! (Translation: Kids today need Internet safety. Celebrate Internet Safety Month!)