Friday, August 26, 2016

Life Online: Teens Talk About The web

"Online there is no pressure in how you look or no fear of face-to-face rejection. There are places to meet others with the same interests. Sure you've got to be careful, but really it's cool"

Life Online: Teens Talk About The web

Meet me Online

The are comments from teens about life online. According to Yankelovich Partners, a market research firm, 75 percent of teens surf the Web at least once a week; some 40 percent go online every day.

And what territory are they surfing? "Many teens use the Internet as shopping mall-a place to meet friends, play games, and shop-even without the intent to buy anything," notes Jared Blank, a media analyst.

Teens also use the Web to find out what other teens think about such topics as dating, style and peer pressure; to share dreams and fears; for school research; to help themselves and others; and even to connect with God. 

But there are dangers and pitfalls in cyber-space - from misinformation to predators. Says one parent: "I tell my teen and her friends, the Internet is just like the neighborhood - only much, much bigger. Just like you're careful hanging out in the neighborhood, you need to be cautious online."

Still, a good part of the Internet is just that - good. And teens can use The Web to make a difference for themselves and for others.

Be wise in what is good and guileless in what is evil "Romans 16:19"

Weaving a web for the good

In the days following the start of the recent war in Iraq, online chat rooms were filled with teens posting their feelings - and their fears.

"Of course we're anxious and scared. Times are tough for everyone and growing up with war and terrorism has made it hard"      Sarah

"Reading this was every cool. I was worried about the whole thing. I still am, but it helped. I knew that I wasn't the only kid on earth who was freaked out"    Michelle

After the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, the climate online was also filled with fear, anger and uncertainty.

Like many New Yorkers, that day left 15-year-old Joshua Niamehr worried. But soon, he began wondering about what led to those attacks. He saw ignorance as the enemy, and decided to face it down with dialogue online.

Joshua dreamed up a Web site where teens all over the world could discuss whatever  they wanted, but overall the talk emphasizes tolerance and understanding . "Generally, teens are more open-minded," says Joshua, "and I think we should take advantage of that."

Many Web sites offer posting boards to fight the ignorance that leads to racism, hate crimes, prejudice and the like. Some, such as one site which offers stories of the "power of one," tell about teens who have made a difference through positive actions.

"We are the future," said one young person who started a Web site for teens to share their views and vision. "It depends on us now. The future of the world rests on our shoulders."

Whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all. "Galatians 6:10"

What's a teen to do?

Worried about dating and relationships? A family situation got you wondering where to turn? As long you use caution, the Web can be a good place for ideas. After all other teens have been where you are and probably have support and thoughts to share.

When on teen wrote that her boyfriends was pressuring her to have sex with him - and that she did not want to - another responded: "Tell him how you feel. If he doesn't respect that then he shouldn't be your boyfriend."

Yet another wrote about his divorced mother's marriage to a man he disliked. A teenage girl posted this comment:   When I was  13 and 14 I hated my stepmother. ...Who was she to be here with my dad and with us? I know he and my mom just couldn't be together - 2 many problems 2 talk about there! After a while though, I let her in, you know, and we're real close now. She's helped me a lot. As long as there is no violence involved - you know what I mean - then give it some time."

But even with all the talk online, teens still turn first to parents, teachers, counselors when times get tough. A Time/CNN poll shows that young adults have a healthy skepticism about information on the Web: only 13 percent of teens surveyed said they trusted information from the Internet "a great deal," compared to the 83 percent who had confidence in the help they got from parents.

While the Web lets teens talk to one another and even to online professional, nothing replaces face-to-face conversation with people we know and trust.

The tongue of the wise brings healing.  "Proverbs 12:18"   

Being on guard online

Three undercover New York City police officers impersonate teens in order to serve as their online protectors.

They are members of the Computer Crime Squad which deals with sexual predators, identity theft and other crimes committed against young people hanging out in cyber-space. Recently the trio was responsible for the arrest of a man accused of trying to arrange a meeting with a 13-year-old girl.

There are real risks online, from predators who try to connect with kids for all the wrong reasons to sites offering inappropriate, illegal or dangerous information such as pornography and hatred of certain groups.

The deter unsafe contact, many chat rooms have a "report to monitor" button to turn in some whose chat has taken a bad turn.

There are also laws regulating online contact and conversation, as well privacy issues. The best rule is to be aware - and be careful.

Make me to know Your ways, O Lord: teach me Your paths. Lead me in your truth, and tech me, for You are the God of my salvation. "Psalm 25: 4-5" 

Class size - millions & millions!

Online, teens have thousands of research tools right at their fingertips. They can journey around the world for information or just for fun. But all Web sites are not created equal. Some offer information that is false, hurtful or hateful. The truth should always be central to learning whether seated in a classroom or in front of a computer.

"The best part for me is that I don't have to worry about making the library before it closes. The Web never shuts down." Brittany 

Teens can even learn about their future education. When one teen posted this question on an online bulletin board - "Is college difficult?" - another wrote back: "I am a freshman in my second semester of college. It's not easy. My senior year of high school was so laid back it really hurt my study habits. So be careful about that now."

In every way you have been enriched in Him, in speech and knowledge of every kind. "1 Corinthians 1:5"

Going online with God

One Web site for teens offers this message: "Prayer is the least we can do, and the most important thing we can do for someone. Prayer is love in action. It is a gift that has eternal  value." 

Plugging in the word "God" on one search engine yielded more than 44 million results. Make no mistake about it, God is online. And know, too, that teens are seeking Him and His help.

Many Web sites for teens offer a spot for prayer intentions such as these:

"Lord Jesus, help our leaders to make the right and just decisions that will lead to world peace."

"This prayer is for my brother that he just gets back on track with the family and with school."

"I would like to pray for all those who have been victims of violence: physical, emotional and sexual. It's not an easy thing to deal with, but with God's help and love, anything can be overcome."

In a survey of college freshmen, most said that if they could dine with anyone from any time in history, they would choose Jesus. William Damon, director of Stanford University's Center for Adolescents, believes the spiritual searching of teens may be this generation's defining characteristic.

Going online also offers the opportunity to learn more about your onw faith and the beliefs of others.

The internet can be many things: a window on the word, a channel for information, a mail box for messages. But, basically, it is a tool - and it is up to each visitor just how well it is used.

Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your goods works and give glory to your Father in heaven. "Matthew 5:16"

Source from:
The Christopher, 12 E. 48th St., New York, NY 1007
E-mail: mail@christophers.org | Internet: www.christophers.org

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