Latura întunecată a Internetului și social media

The Observer view on keeping children safe in a smart-tech world (Editorial)

preluat din The Observer din 5 august 2017 (Courtesy of Guardian News & Media Ltd)

”Internetul și social media oferă oportunități imense generației viitoare. Există totuși o latură întunecată a acestora, de care tinerii trebuie protejați.”

This summer’s most widely panned film release must surely be The Emoji Movie. Picked apart by critics for its lack of plot and shameless product placement, it managed a quite dismal 7% rating on the review agglomerator Rotten Tomatoes.

That Hollywood saw a market for a film set in the inside of a smartphone – it grossed $26m in its first weekend – is perhaps revealing about the role such technology has come to play in our lives. Also telling was Ofcom’s annual look at the nation’s viewing habits, published last week. For the first time, it examined our consumption of on-demand streaming services alongside broadcast television. The report painted a picture of individualised viewing habits – families sitting in a living room all watching different programmes on different devices – characterised by binge-watching TV shows.

It is children and young people who have most avidly embraced the impact smart technology has had, not just on the way we watch things, but the way we communicate. Ofcom’s regular publication of viewing statistics used to provide an opportunity for bemoaning how much time children were spending sat passively in front of the television. Today, the amount of time they spend doing so is in decline. But it is being more than replaced by the time they spend online, which has steadily increased in recent years, even for very young children.

Three- to four-year-olds now spend almost eight and a half hours a week online on average; for 12- to 15-year-olds, it is more than 20 hours. Almost three-quarters of 12- to 15-year-olds have a social media profile, as do more than two-fifths of 11-year-olds, despite the fact that all of the major social media platforms have a minimum user age of 13. Four-fifths of 12- to 15-year-olds now have their own smartphone.

Technology has profoundly shaped experiences of childhood, in ways that make our old concerns about too much TV seem rather quaint. Primary school children do their homework with the help of a tablet device. Teens regularly update their social media profile with selfies and chat on messaging apps such as WhatsApp, sometimes late into the night. While many parents are wary of sharing photos and videos of their children on social media, some children will have a digital footprint, which they will never be able to escape, set up on their behalf long before they can type.

Social media clearly creates huge opportunities for a generation for whom interacting online is second nature. But if it sometimes accentuates negative patterns of behaviour in adults – bullying, harassment and abuse – it has even greater potential to do this in children, who are more impressionable. It’s perfectly possible that in 30 years we will look back, relieved that the positive aspects of technology have clearly outweighed the negative. Or, indeed, that we will come to see the ubiquitous presence of social media in children’s lives today as being as damaging as other modern vices. (continuarea pe The Observer)

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