Saturday, August 4, 2007

SRR Cybersexuality

The trigger to this latest interview on Shrinkrapradio is the book Cyber Rules: What You Really Need to Know About the Internet; Ground rules for kids and their families in the new digital environment by Dr. Joanie Gillispie. (Her website seems to be under construction; but this is her official link) This title serves as a good representation for what is discussed on the show.

There is a nice comparison Dr. Gillispie makes for what you would grant your kid on line. You wouldn't give him or her the car keys unless you have made sure the kid is up to driving the car, both as far as skills are needed, as well as the level of responsibility at stake. She points out all the reasons why cyber presence in general and cyber sexuality are tricky. To throw some of the quickly: the internet allows for impulsive behavior, anonymity and a full blown etiquette for the net is yet to develop. The bottom line seems to be, that whatever net activity and exposure to questionable content is not going to hurt, in the eyes of Gillispie, unless the behavior is sought compulsively. Hence, kids must be helped and educated with the internet and then they will be up to it.

Splendid, I think it is very valuable advice that Joanie Gillispie offers, but there are two thoughts pressing on me, that do not seem to be addressed entirely. One is that she lies a certain natural and normal burden with the parent and other educators that, I fear, they still may not be up to. It ranges from the car keys metaphor, right down to the bottom-line that kids must be helped to become mature net users. The point is, that many of those parents and educators are far from mature net users themselves and probably never are going to be. From the get go, they are not as internet savvy as the children they are supposed to help. So, they cannot evaluate whether the kids are ready for the keys.

That brings me to the second point. The book as well as the interview concentrates on kids and sexuality of the web, but not only kids have yet to learn deal with sexuality on the web. I do not take it for granted, mature grown-ups, by virtue of being mature, can deal with sexuality on the web just like that. Besides, cyber presence is more than just about sexuality. It is about all aspects of social interaction.

All of this is not to say the podcast is bad. Quite to the contrary. At its worst it seems a bit too limited to me. And what we need, both for the book as for the show is a follow-up that takes on grown-ups just as much as kids and takes on all web interaction, not just the sexual stuff.

Coming up: Dr. Dave interviews Dr. Gillispie on Wise Counsel.
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