Safer Internet Day: why do we keep saying its the kids fault for being irresponsible online?

This is a fantastic topic on Safe Internet Day recently, I'm adding below observations based on reading through most of the material on the site. Below is a post I wrote for another social network related to my employer but as it's a neutral topic, not relevant to company topics, I felt it was worth moving to a public forum to see if there's any feedback here.

Firstly, I should clause the rest of this post that while I trained in telco engineering, I stepped out of Telecom world to train as secondary school ICT teacher, with another few detours into my sport and business before then returning to Telecoms (they're all stories for another day :). I mention this as it gives me a relatively unique perspective having spent two years in front of groups of secondary age kids (age 11-18, give or take) in the era of social networks. This also means I know absolutely nothing on lots of other perspectives also so expecting some interesting replies to this thread!

- Great to see frequent references of discussing openly around what is online between parents and adults, and 'how' to act. Digital is just a new tool, and parents/adults will also get a lot out of understanding what the kids are doing (How many people, especially in tech companies will admit, they don't know all the digital tools either - I'll kick it off here and acknowledge I've still so much to learn, and it takes consistent effort).
As mentioned frequently when discussing online safety, "It can be hard to keep up when the social media world moves so quickly, but knowledge is the best weapon." Related to this: It was eye-opening the amount of times that kids told me parents had no interest/idea on what their children were doing online. And then followed up by the parents giving out to the teachers, for online activities of their children, at the next teachers meeting!

- A frequent topic of adults (myself included!) is that 'kids these days are wizards with technology, I've no idea what they're doing'. I'll make this observation from teaching kids: they were wizards at the messaging aspects of the Internet and how to find their favourite song/singer on youtube, but ask them to do deep thinking activities such as proper research or formatting of a document, and they were just the same as us, the adults, when it came to understanding how to use many of the modern tech tools. We're all in the same boat.

- Much of the material online on how kids should be safe makes no mention of parents/adult responsibility to be careful sharing details online. I'm still in awe of the amount of photos of children I see posted across social networks (both privately and publicly - and note that 'privately' on a social network should be heavily claused as the 'free' social network you use of makes its money through advertising and selling your data....). It's wonderful to be able to share all these photos of your kids, but they will have to deal with the consequences of those photos when they're an adult. So, would you post a pic of yourself in the same situation at the one your child is in? Have you made sure those photos are only shared privately, and not publicly (will an employer in 10/15/20 years time find photos of your children publicly)?
- Also, worth noting that kids love Snapchat which is primarily disappearing messages: in many ways, they're more conscious of leaving a trail than adults are.

- I'll get push-back on this one from the tech people, but anti-virus is less relevant in this age (this I believe is a something from our adult, legacy, mindset :), instead keeping your computer and device's software up to date is just as, if not more, important.

Again, being a teacher, I'll always come back to the idea that education is key. In this day and age, it feels chaotic across the web with all these methods of interacting. And the lines between the offline and online are blurring. We (i.e. everyone of every age) are all just learning what instant access to anything means to society. But it's also where the modern world is occurring so we may as well learn how to use it. Looking forward to some interesting replies to this one :)


What do people think on this?

Neal McQuaid