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Get online and get with it


It’s a scary world out there. Not the real world–the virtual one.

Cyber space has replaced material space, and we’re more concerned with who’s looking at us through the screen than through our windows.

Facebook chat allows you to talk to total strangers, look at their pictures, and show them yours.

Blackberry Messenger (lovingly called BBM), let’s you have intimate conversations wherever you go. It’s like carrying your boyfriend in your pocket.

Your children can now take pictures of themselves instantly, post them online instantly, get reactions from friends instantly, and consequently, feel happy or sad instantly.

As if the teenage years weren’t hard enough. Add to that little bits of technology that keep your kids in constant contact with their social group–peer pressure at their fingertips. They are always being judged; on Twitter, on messenger, on text message.

As frightened parents, we may start to wonder how best we can control their online action. But as we talk this month about how technology has changed the way we make friends and fall in love, I propose it’s more important to start thinking about what this new interaction means for how our children view themselves.

You cannot deny your teenagers technology. It will find a way to hunt them down. And it won’t bother asking your permission.

Instead, start understanding the types of pressure children now face–the dangers they are exposed to they may not be aware of–and the new type of respect (virtual respect, let’s call it) that they must learn to earn.

Get online, and get with it.

Help your children reflect their true personality on social networks without compromising their values. Teach them to be tasteful in their comments, subtle in their suggestions. Encourage them to follow role models on Twitter, join Facebook causes they support.

Instead of fighting it, raise your children to be good citizens of the world. The real one and the virtual one.

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