Coming up: teens and tech series | Kris Hill
By KRIS HILL
Covington Reporter Assisitant Editor
August 26, 2011 · Updated 9:28 AM
Technology is moving at an insane pace now.
And while adults are struggling to keep up with the fast pace, kids are using technology earlier because they will be expected to have it mastered by the time they get in the work place, whether that’s the first job at 16 or an internship the summer after junior year of college.
Teens don’t just use technology as tools for school and work which is why I’m working on a two-part series about the impact of technology from social media to cell phones to laptops in the classroom. The first part will run Sept. 2 and the series will conclude on Sept. 9.
I spend a fair amount of time thinking as well as writing about technology and how it’s become an integral part of our lives.
A few years ago I attended a seminar hosted by the Tahoma School District for teachers on the topic of technology.
One of the things the speaker told the group of educators is their students are digital natives and those of us who are adults are digital immigrants.
I remember sitting there thinking to myself there must be some kind of middle ground group for us Gen Xers, well, at least someone like myself. I’m approaching 33 so I am at the tail end of Gen X by some definitions and the front end of Gen Y by others.
But, the reality is while I am a tech geek — evidenced by my smartphone, iPod, iPad, laptop, netbook and desktop computers, who as the daughter of an engineer first started playing with computers before I started grade school — there are a fair number of my peers who are equally turned off by technology.
These days, anyone under 25 practically has their mobile technology welded to their dominant hands, especially teenagers.
As technology changes and evolves, so too, do the ways kids use it.
Take this example: in early 2006 I wrote a lengthy piece about how parents and school administrators were trying to keep kids off MySpace. Today that social networking site has all but fallen into obscurity as everyone in all walks of life in our society have taken to Facebook and Twitter. What does that mean for kids today? And how can adults navigate this new technology territory?
During a conversation with a job shadow student a few months ago I was showing off my high school year book. I mentioned that back in the day (as in the mid-1990s) we didn’t have Facebook.
The student said, “There must have been less drama.”
My reply was, “Oh, there was drama, it just didn’t happen as fast.”
Another example of this concept of the speed of technology is the movie “Easy A.”
Released in September 2010, the movie is about Olive, a girl attending high school and existing on the fringe of teen society.
Olive, played by Emma Stone, allows a guy friend who has been teased mercilessly for being gay to pretend they have dated and slept together. They go so far as to fake the act at a party to make the ruse convincing.
From there, Olive develops a barter system, taking tokens of appreciation and gift cards from boys in exchange for the ability to claim they had slept with her.
As a result, she develops a reputation as the school slut. There is a scene that depicts how quickly news travels from one kid to the next, primarily via text messaging, but also through the more traditional whispers as well as other tech tools.
Based on what I’ve seen on Facebook and Twitter as well as the description of how information travels by students I know from Kentlake and Tahoma that scene was fairly accurate.
Meanwhile, our young female protagonist describes this entire scenario from start to finish on a video webcast, which she broadcast to all of her classmates.
Technology not only enhances the ability for drama to spread like wildfire among teens, it has also led to situations that could only occur in the age of texting and Facebook.
In April when news broke about Barbara Anderson, the Kentlake math teacher who was arrested for sexual misconduct with a 17-year-old boy who was one of her students, I watched Facebook. During the past nine months I’ve confirmed friend requests from a number of area high school students so I’ve got a view of that world I wouldn’t have otherwise.
Kentlake High students figured out who the teacher was before her identity was revealed and also put together the identity of the student even though that’s never been made public. There were jokes. There were reactions of disgust. And watching the teens try to figure out how the whole relationship happened without anyone finding out for so long as well as trying to reason out why the teacher and the boy had ended up together was fascinating.
It also made me realize the power of social media.
Going back to my job shadow students again, I recall finding it funny when at one point I had to turn away from the two teens sitting in my office to look at my cell phone only to turn back to see them both staring at the three-inch screens of theirs.
Or take another example of how technology is hard wired into the brains of youngsters now: my daughter, who is not yet even 2 years old, knows how to use my iPad or iPod Touch or even my Android smartphone better than her grandparents.
This is all part of our lives now — especially those of us with children.
As adults we have to figure out how to navigate these waters so we can provide guidance to our kids.
Otherwise situations such as the one that recently occurred among a trio of tween girls in Issaquah may become commonplace.
Luckily I have some great resources to go to here in the community as I examine this issue such as Jason and Kelli Krafsky, a Maple Valley couple who literally wrote the book on how married couples can use Facebook while maintaining some balance between the virtual world and the real one, or Maple Valley Police Chief Michelle Bennett who wrote her doctorate dissertation on cyberbullying a few years ago.
These resources will come in handy as I work on this series on teens and technology.
Hopefully it will prove enlightening and educational not just for my readers but for me, as well.Contact Covington Reporter Assisitant Editor Kris Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org or (425) 432-1209, ext. 5054.