Social networking, video gaming, texting — while familiar and comfortable for youth, these technological advances may be a source of fear and confusion for many parents. In a BYUtv episode of Insight, Professor Charles Knutson of the Department of Computer Science urged parents to get actively involved in this aspect of their children’s lives instead of avoiding the virtual world.
Knutson acknowledged that the older generation would never be as fluent as youth in the language of cyberspace, but he emphasized that they do not need a doctorate in technology to be good parents. Just as they may monitor the physical environment frequented by their children, parents should also enter their virtual hangouts.
“You’re worried about MySpace, and your kid’s on MySpace; go get a MySpace account,” he encouraged. “Go on Facebook and friend your kid. . . . Drop into where they are.”
In addition to urging greater involvement with Internet safety and monitoring, Knutson addressed such questions as whether or not video games and virtual social sites should be avoided. Are they inherently evil and dangerous? He doesn’t think so.
“The notion that [technology] is fundamentally at fault or problematic — I don’t believe that,” he said.
Technology isn’t the problem. It’s normal human nature that tends to contort new, beneficial tools into dangerous presences. For example, classic bully behavior remains the same even though it may be expressed differently, such as through text messaging or social networking.
“The bad guys are bad guys whether the tool is a cell phone or a shotgun,” Knutson explained.
Instead of feeling removed from the technological world their children have grown up in, parents can recognize that not much has changed after all. Basic parenting questions — where are you going, who are you going with and how long will you be gone — still govern the seemingly illusive cyber-world of today.