It’s Spring Break week for part of the country, and our family of four traveled to Washington, D.C. for museums, sightseeing, and for me…the privilege of some in-person meetings to break up Zoom fatigue.
I often tell people that my two sons (ages 9 and 13) must think they have the most unfair father on the planet. Or, that they were born the most unlucky digital natives since the coining of the term. While my wife and I have assigned them iPhones (this is important — they are our phones, not theirs), they are tightly controlled via parental surveillance apps and time limits. No unapproved app purchases. No access to social networks. No TikTok or Instagram. No Discord. No Fortnight. And no connected game consoles at home. That’s right — two boys and no Xbox or PS4.
After 15 years of working in the field of digital media and executive intelligence, I’ve seen first hand how easy it is to use digital tools to manipulate adults with “alternative facts”, misinformation, and information overload. Let alone our youth.
After 15 years of working in the field of digital media and executive intelligence, I’ve seen first hand how easy it is to use digital tools to manipulate adults with “alternative facts”, misinformation, and information overload.
Ask anyone under the age of 21 what mobile device they have, and they’ll light up because they have a “good” one, or they’ll be apologetic because they have a “bad” one. Smartphones are status symbols — even for third graders. Smartphones have authority. People and objects with status and authority are trusted — even if they shouldn’t be. Our youth look at their device and they “trust” it — for what it is and what comes through it: they stay in touch with friends through messaging, find happiness from excelling at a game, and pass time by scrolling through images and short videos.
But do kids think they’re obtaining information from….news organizations? No. Today, news somehow magically “comes from” their device. This makes manipulation extremely straightforward, since the vast majority of us now get our news from mobile devices and apps. Most of our youth don’t know how to ask critical questions around reputable sources and salacious ones. They don’t look for multiple sources to find different approaches or…