For those of you who are confused, please read on. With the help of the transl8it website, I asked you this in the headline above: “Can you speak lingo? If not, read this.” Hopefully I made you feel out of touch enough to consider learning more about the strange new language that has been developed by teens around instant messaging and text messaging. One of the better books I have recently discovered to help us understand the online culture of teens is Totally Wired: What Teens and Tweens are REALLY Doing Online, written by a popular blogger and media consultant, Anastasia Goodstein. Although the book is written for parents, I think that educators and church workers will also find it a helpful resource for getting up to speed quickly and for some good common sense guidance. Here are some things that I ended up underlining that were “value adds” for me:
Goodstein reminds us that parents have always panicked over new forms of entertainment – in the 18th century girls were discouraged from reading and that this mania was a kind of disease; in the 1920’s movie houses were an assault on maidenhood and dancing to jazz would lead to sex; in the 1940’s it was feared that comic books would ruin eyes and lead to crime, and in the 50’s that Elvis’ swiveling hips were a threat to decency. (Well, maybe it is a slippery slope!)
- “No other generation has been so targeted and saturated with media and marketing created just for them. Marketers are trying to reach customers at younger ages to create brand loyalty for life. Toy cell phones are now marketed to parents of toddlers and real cell phones just for tweens (12-14 year olds)…the media has become just as powerful and influential in teen’s lives as their friends.”
- New technology challenges: public disclosure of formerly private information, the viral nature of instant distribution of information leading to bullying issues, distance that allows for experimentation with identities and flirting, instant gratification for teens related to thoughts and appearances, and a “vast opportunity offered by these technologies for educators to revolutionize education and for teens to create their own media.
- Online offers a place to “hang-out” – earlier generations had more time and spaces for physically hanging out – today’s teens are busier so it’s quicker, safer in some senses, and more convenient to hang out virtually. It is a place to connect and develop relationships and identity away from the eyes of parents – just like earlier generations did by going downtown or to the mall.
- Recent figures show that the teen social networking site MySpace has more traffic than Google, and that teens spend about 15 hours a week on the site.
- According to one study cited, 75% of job recruiters used the Web for applicant screening purposes … and eliminated 25% of the applicants based on information they found online.
- Best resources for parents and educators on online safety: Wiredsafety.org
More from this helpful resource for parents and educators in future posts dealing with how much parental control and the huge change technology is bringing to education.