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Sunday, 29 July 2007

Curiosity kills the teen

Published: July 30, 2007, 00:01
The Web is the answer to many a panacea. Earlier, knowledge was the privilege of the few in society who used it to their advantage.
They divided and ruled many regions across the globe by dividing people under different issues. Bill Gates, the true reformer of my age, got everyone spell equality by unleashing the three 'w's - world wide web.
But he got not just people across the world on to the screens, but also their kids.
But like too much of anything is not good, the internet is now a headache for many. Especially parents.
I am reminded of this article in the newspaper asking parents whether they knew if their computers are child- safe.
With children spending summer vacations staring at computer screens the question was how much of the information do they need. I would say all of it and more. But not many would agree with me.

Actually today there is no true teenager. It is a species of the lesser kids who are on the verge of extinction. I call them lesser kids because today those who do not have Net access are equivalent to those who didn't have access to schools some two decades back.
A few years later there will be no kid who can connect with the character played by chubby little Kevin Arnold (played by American child star Fred Savage) of the Wonder Years fame in Star Plus.
When I was a teenager there was no internet. My guide was some older cousins or classmates, like Nikita who knew everything under the sun, and would come to save me when I did not laugh but cringed at a particular joke with double meaning.
Today the teenager has shifted a little ahead into the milk teeth age. With the busty animated characters like Lara Croft driving the gamer instinct in my seven-year-old brother, what does one expect?
You won't believe after giving her a virtual kick he screams... "yeah I got her down... stupid sexy girl". It took me a while to decipher... the words from his not so clear pronunciation of the same.
The only way you can find an original teen as the word is described in the dictionary, among today's teens, is only if he/ she has less or no access to the Web.
I am reminded of a Times of India article which talks of a Mumbai teenager Shibu Nair, who wanted to know why plump girls in his class had "fat chests". And got no answer by googling for it.
Shibu's curiosity finally got him an ill repute among girls in the class, a temporary suspension term at school and a tight slap from his mother.
I don't say give it all to the kid. But tell the kid what he asks for. Make it comfortable for him to approach than let him wander away over the net.
Why would he steal the extra pocket money to go to that internet cafe two kilometres away from home escaping neighbours or other keen-eyed informers to know that silly little thing he didn't know before.

I am sorry to observe that it is unapproachable parental behaviour that gets the teenager go wild.
I agree with Dr Phil's observation that "a teenager has no blood in his veins but pure adrenaline" and that hence he/she needs special treatment/consideration to grow up as close to normal as possible in our close to abnormal society.
The bottom line is that what needs to be known must be known. Hints or dumb hints or dumber hints won't work any more with the curious kids having a lot more options today.
Let's acknowledge that the generation next is pacing up at Google's speed and he must match shoulders with other kids who know it all anyway.

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