Thursday, May 08, 2008

Down with the Internet

In the past week or two, I’ve come across several articles about a growing phenomenon: the rise of social networking sites for children. By “children,” I don’t mean twelve-year-olds; I mean pre-schoolers. Pre-schoolers! What on earth could a pre-schooler have to social-network about? Or even five- to eight-year-olds? The whole thing makes me feel full of unexplicable rage and horror. I don’t feel I’m overstating things to say I find the idea revolting.

I speak, of course, from the perhaps uninformed position of as-yet-childless observer. I speak from a position of having gleaming, idyllic ideas of what I want my future children’s childhoods to be like, a vision that not only does not include social networking sites, but also does not even include a computer. Who wants to spend time staring at a screen, reading horrid, incorrectly punctuated-and-capitalized user-generated content, when one could be outside—planting a garden—bike-riding—drawing with chalk—and reading high-quality children’s literature?

I ask you: What is wrong with people?? And do the developers of social networking sites for toddlers (yes, toddlers) feel any kind of moral compunction about what they’re doing? Doesn’t anyone feel it’s inappropriate for four-year-olds to fiendishly seek “money” in their “virtual worlds” with which to “buy” things for their “avatars”? Doesn’t anyone see the threat to robust imagination posed by pre-established storylines and bland online activities for toys that come equipped with “web access codes”?

The depressing thing is that all of my future children’s peers will likely have “profiles” on social networking sites aimed at their very young, very vulnerable age group—and my future children will probably want to have “profiles” too.

That’s why someone just has to put a stop to all of this, and simply make it unprofitable for site developers to continue on in this vein. In other words, send the kids outside instead of online; buy them nice wooden toys, art supplies, small woodland animal figurines. It's all going too far, much too far. Is nothing sacred?


Michelle said...

oh. i really, really did NOT want to know this.

we spent this morning running back and forth on a bridge over flooded woodland at a park watching ducks and throwing "twirly birds" (maple tree seeds). and playing in sand. and walking around the block. i feel like a righteous protestor now.

is there really no bottom past which the drive for money won't take us??

Margo said...

Isn't it sad--and scary--that genuine PLAY can actually feel subversive??