In today’s society nearly everyone has or has access to a Mobile, Laptop or some
sort of device capable of connecting to online media. Many children and teenagers spend an overwhelming amounts of time viewing these devices. In fact Most teens — 85% of those aged 14 to 17 — have cell phones. So do 69% of 11-14 year olds and 31% of kids aged 8-10, according to a 2010 survey by the Kaiser Family (WEB MD, 2015). Do the benefits of children and teenagers having access to these devices outweigh the disadvantages? Is this filling the minds of our next generation with endless creativity, reassuring parents of their child’s safety and providing a portal to stay in contact with anyone they want? Or, is it a health hazard on multiple levels, with the dangers of online predators , posting personal information that is permanently on the web or even engaging innocently in illegal activities?
Let’s start by looking at the advantages of mobile computing for adolescents. For instance, young people have access to countless amounts of music, art, foreign films that they would not have the opportunity to see if they did not have access to mobile computing. This allows young people to open their minds to new ideas and forms of art that they otherwise might never have known of, and this could potentially lead to them discovering new talents, hobbies, and even careers that they would have never imagined. Even YouTube – one of the most well know websites in the world – can facilitate the passing of new art forms onto the youth of today. Secondly, young people who own mobile phones can be contacted by parents for safety purposes, but also it allows children to have emergency services such as the Garda, fire departments, and ambulance services in case of an emergency (Khan, 2014). Finally, young people with access to mobile computing have the ability to widen their social networks from a young, and in turn helps them to build relationships with people worldwide. This is an advantage that this generation has over all previous generations – young people have a globalised address book by the time they even leave college which have the potential to offer them career opportunities all over the globe (Bourne, 2008).
However, it is vital to keep in mind that there are many aspects of mobile computing among the youth that can be detrimental to their wellbeings and psyches. There are dangerous people lurking behind computer screens that target this younger age group who are generally innocent to the ways of the internet. The term ‘catfish’ has become a common one in our society due the numerous cases that have affected young people in the past few years. Urban dictionary defines a catfish as “someone who pretends to be someone they’re not using Facebook or other social media to create false identities, particularly to pursue deceptive online romances” (Urban Dictionary, 2015). These people tend to target a younger female audience, and can be particularly dangerous if they start trying to make face-to-face contact. Young people are flattered by the attention and forget to think that the person they are instant messaging might not be the person that they are pretending to be (The Huffington Post, 2015). Another danger of mobile computing that young people innocently ignore is that third parties can access the content that these young people put on their social networking profiles. Whether it is simply playing a popular game on Facebook like FarmVille, or sending a private message to a boyfriend or girlfriend, your personal information can be hacked or downloaded by third parties and can be used for malicious activities (CNET, 2010).
These are only a few of the advantages and disadvantages mentioned above, the list is endless. However, the main point to take from this post is that regardless of how society puts the internet and mobile computing on an almighty pedestal, it is clear that there is a huge amount of content out there that is severely dangerous for fully mature adults, let alone young children and teenagers who are completely oblivious to the dangers and deceit that exist.
Bourn, D. (2008). Young people, identity and living in a global society. Policy & Practice – A Development Education Review, [online] (7). Available at: http://www.developmenteducationreview.com/issue7-focus4?page=show [Accessed 11 Nov. 2015].
CNET, (2010). Five hidden dangers of Facebook (Q&A) – CNET. [online] Available at: http://www.cnet.com/uk/news/five-hidden-dangers-of-facebook-q-a/ [Accessed 11 Nov. 2015].
The Huffington Post, (2015). Catfish: Why Parents Need To Discuss It With Their Teens. [online] Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sue-scheff/catfish_b_2529769.html [Accessed 11 Nov. 2015].
Khan, F. (2014). Pros & Cons of Children Having Mobile Phones | LIVESTRONG.COM. [online] LIVESTRONG.COM. Available at: http://www.livestrong.com/article/69462-pros-cons-children-having/ [Accessed 11 Nov. 2015].
Urban Dictionary, (2015). catfish. [online] Available at: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=catfish [Accessed 11 Nov. 2015].
WebMD, (2015). Cell Phones and Children: Pros and Cons. [online] Available at: http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/children-and-cell-phones [Accessed 11 Nov. 2015].