Is the Internet Getting Worse for Our Kids?
A few weeks ago The New York Times ran a story that took a very dim view of life on the Internet.
In The Internet’s Loop of Action and Reaction Is Worsening, Farhad Majoo writes:
“[Y]ou’ve surely noticed that the Internet now seems to be on constant boil. Your social feed has always been loud, shrill, reflexive and ugly, but this year everything has been turned up to 11.”
Perhaps he’s right.
After all, one doesn’t have to look much further than the Twitter feeds of the current crop of political candidates to get a good dose of digital vitriol. It’s enough to make you want to put your head in the sand.
Susan Benesch, a faculty associate at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, who was interviewed for the New York Times story, says:
“It's become so common to figuratively walk through garbage and violent imagery online that people have accepted it in a way.”
At Cyberwise, where we help parents and teachers make sense of the digital world so they can guide young people toward positive and productive technology use, we decided not to accept this view of the Internet lying down.
Instead we wanted to turn the social media conversation around by asking the question:
“What’s your Digital Wish for a kinder, safer Internet?”
We posed this question to all kinds of people—teachers, students, technology industry insiders, online safety experts, and more—and asked them to share their #digiwishes with us, on Facebook and Twitter, during this holiday season.
Our goal was to bring some holiday cheer into our online chatter.
In just a couple of weeks we’ve been both overwhelmed and uplifted by the results. Here are just some of the wishes we’ve received:
“My digital wish is for parents to spend more time interacting with their children.”
“My digital wish is for Millennials to understand that what they post can follow them for many years.”
“My digital wish is for there to be no more cyberbullying.”
“My digital wish is for parents to be good online role models.”
“My digital wish is that people would stop using social media as a way to get attention.”
“My digital wish is to humanize social media. Let’s create the environment we’d like to live in.”
You get the idea.
We’ve learned that we are not alone.
There are many people out there who want to use the Internet for positive purposes, and to lift one another up, not tear each other down. It’s time for us to raise the volume of our voices.
So we’d love to hear your wishes. You can post them on our Facebook page, or on Twitter using the hashtag #digiwishes.
And while you’re at it, please feel free to visit our website to download our free holiday gift, the 5 Guidelines to Help Students Build a Safe and Positive Digital Presence.
Together we can build a safe and positive digital presence. Happy Holidays!
Diana Graber is founder of CyberWise.org and CyberCivics.com, two organizations dedicated to helping adults and kids learn digital literacy skills. A long-time media producer with an M.A. in Media Psychology & Social Change, Graber is also a regular contributor on digital media topics to the Huffington Post and others. She was also Adjunct Professor of Media Psychology at the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology (MSPP).