Allowing youth to participate in public (online) life

danah boyd says:

But why should youth not be allowed to participate in public life? Do paternalistic, age-specific technology barriers really protect or benefit teens?

One of the most crucial aspects of coming of age is learning how to navigate public life. The teenage years are precisely when people transition from being a child to being an adult. There is no magic serum that teens can drink on their 18th birthday to immediately mature and understand the world around them. Instead, adolescents must be exposed to – and allowed to participate in – public life while surrounded by adults who can help them navigate complex situations with grace. They must learn to be a part of society, and to do so, they must be allowed to participate.

Rather than trying to protect teens from all fears and risks that we can imagine, let’s instead imagine ways of integrating them constructively into public life. The key to doing so is not to create technologies that reinforce limitations but to provide teens and parents with the mechanisms and information needed to make healthy decisions. Some young people may be ready to start navigating broad audiences at 13; others are not ready until they are much older. But it should not be up to technology companies to determine when teens are old enough to have their voices heard publicly. Parents should be allowed to work with their children to help them navigate public spaces as they see fit. And all of us should be working hard to inform our younger citizens about the responsibilities and challenges of being a part of public life.


3 Responses to “Allowing youth to participate in public (online) life”

  1. One of the issues I have with CIPA and COPPA are that they are legislation aimed at marketers and those who might mean harm to our children, yet they don’t include avenues to use these digital tools in ways that would benefit our children our students.

    John Dewey’s philosophy still holds true in a digital age
    “”I believe that the school is primarily a social institution. Education being a social process, the school is simply that form of community life in which all those agencies are concentrated that will be most effective in bringing the child to share in the inherited resources of the race, and to use his own powers for social ends.
    I believe that education, therefore, is a process of living and not a preparation for future living.
    I believe that the school must represent present life – life as real and vital to the child as that which he carries on in the home, in the neighborhood, or on the play-ground.
    I believe that education which does not occur through forms of life, forms that are worth living for their own sake, is always a poor substitute for the genuine reality and tends to cramp and to deaden.”

  2. I completely agree with Danah, and with Lucie’s comment on the post. We should trust teens and empower them by giving them responsibilities they are shown how to handle. _Becoming Adult_ and Dennis Littky speak about — and practice — ways teenagers can be part of the adult world even when they’re in school, and PBL allows for the integration of teens into adult life in seamless ways. Teens need adults to help them transition into adulthood, but not by having adults stifle the ways adolescents show they’re ready for the larger world.

    Becoming Adult

    Dennis Littky’s The Big Picture

  3. I think that each parent should know their child well enough to allow them to access certain sites. In some ways, were telling them that their opinion do not matter. Once they know the appropriate way to voice their opinion why hold them back? You would be surprised what you could learn from a student.

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