Remember when the biggest issue of kids going online was that someone would find out where they live and kidnap them? When my kids first started using Minecraft message boards, I told them a million times, “Don’t tell people where you live.”
Now, four years later, my kids spend most of their day online. My older son writes speculative science fiction and weaves his work into stories written with other people. My younger son collaborates on design jobs with kids who know software that he doesn’t know. Both my sons play multiplayer games.
What they don’t do is talk about location. In fact, I have noticed that sometimes my younger son will play for weeks with the same kids, often setting up a schedule. But my son never knows where the kids live.
I’ll hear an accent and I’ll say, “Where does he live?”
And my son will say, “Mom! I don’t know. No one asks that. Stop talking! They can hear you!”
Other times I’ll ask myself. I’ll say, “Hey, I’m the mom. I am wondering: where do you live?”
The kid will tell me—Australia, Cambodia, Pakistan—but the kids never ask in return. Because kids honestly just do not care where other kids live.
This is a great example of how parents are so inept at regulating behavior online. Parents don’t even understand what needs regulating.
Another example: 30% of kids in Europe use ad-blocking technology. It’s so powerful and easy-to-use that there are high-level meetings with the huge executives trying to figure out what to do about the loss in ad revenue.
Soon most kids in the US will use ad-blocking software (because it’s gamers who are leading the trend.) So all the knowledge and energy I’ve spent trying to manage the ads my kids see is about to be irrelevant.
So now, instead of spending time regulating my kids’ online behavior, I’m trying to just keep up with it. Which means that I was not surprised to see that 70% of views on YouTube are “let’s play” videos. I know what those are. And I know who PewDiePie is, and it feels better to understand than to squash.