Pat Etheridge at describes what “Generation M2” — our highly tech-savvy children ages 8-18 — are up against:

[G]rowing media platforms touch on virtually every health concern pediatricians have about young people: aggression, sex, drugs, obesity, self-image and eating disorders, depression and suicide — even learning disorders and academic achievement.

Etheridge touches on the ubiquity of electronic devices, and the end of privacy as we know it:

The average teenager sends an astonishing 3,400 texts a month: more than 100 a day, according to estimates from a 2010 Neilsen survey. Many learn the hard way that once they hit “send,” there is no such thing as an “erase” button.

Generation M2 youth spend close to eight hours daily in front of various electronic screens — more time than sleeping, school or any other activity, say statistics from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

It seems that every week we learn about someone famous or powerful or simply careless, who sends a compromising tweet, posts an inappropriate picture on their Facebook page, sends an email they can never take back, texts a sext.  Careers have been lost, relationships destroyed, persons embarrassed and humiliated.  Nothing one does electronically can be considered private any longer.  Young people need to understand that some day in the future, something they typed or texted or tweeted in their early years can come back to haunt them, perhaps destroy them.  Andrew Sullivan says it well:

This is a huge loss that accompanies the huge gain of the Internet. Non-saints all need some zone of privacy if they are to remain sane. And yet no one can really avoid the tools of email and texting and tweeting and Tumblring and Instagramming if they want to be part of society – and any single image or text or email can be instantly communicated to everyone on the planet by almost anyone.

Here are some things parents can do:

  • Be a good role model.  Leave your cell phones alone while you’re driving, eating or socializing.  Turn off the TV during dinner.
  • Know what your kids are watching.  Watch TV with them.  Watch them play their video games (and remove all games and DVD’s that you, as the parent, deem inappropriate for their age).  Check the history on your browser when they are done using the internet.  Check their histories on their laptops and iPads and iPods, too.  You have the right and the responsibility to do that.  Tell them you will be checking.
  • Know who they are texting and why.  Do not allow children to bring their electronics to their bedrooms at bedtime.  This will allow you to check their text messages.  Notify them that you will be checking their mailboxes regularly.
  • Watch for and use teachable moments.  There seem to be examples in the headlines on a daily basis that should inform your child what privacy really means.  Use these examples to drive your message home.
  • If all else fails, take away their electronics.  You bought them!  You pay the cable and phone bills!  You should be able to tell when their schoolwork is being distracted by social media, or when their mood and behavior are becoming unacceptable.  Just take the toys away!  Sure, they’ll be mad.  Too bad.


Read article here.