"r u a raper?"

We hear a lot that the kids nowadays are a lot more computer savvy and more equipped to handle life in the internet age. I actually just saw an AT&T ad saying that people who have the internet are somehow made smarter. This makes me wonder if the people who have made these claims have spent any time at all online.

Having information accessible to you does not make you smarter. If you sit in a library all day long and play Rock Band on your cell phone, you will not become smarter. If anything the internet just makes it easier to appear smarted. Nothing like a little cut and paste from Wikipedia onto a forum to make you seem intelligent, right?

Which brings us right to what's got me annoyed. Kids on social networking platforms. There are forums that are designed specifically for kids. Facebook is not one of them. In fact its quite amusing to see kids trying to be cool online only to have their parents "friend" them thus utterly destroying their reason for being on that site.

But I've been away from Facebook for a quite while, so what has me annoyed? Google Buzz it seems has had growth in the number of kids using it. Buzz is handy because to can feed in things like this blog, twitter or other sites into one easy to follow bundle. People can follow you for your content and of course you can follow other people. You can also post things independently on there, like Twitter, but without the character limit. So with people able to feed in things like articles, artwork and the like into Buzz its a handy tool for growing a fanbase and getting your work out there.

Now, there's two ways of going about this. First is leaving comments on people's posts that are interesting and maybe they'll decide to follow you. That's my method and I'm just shy of 100 followers. The other method is to follow as many people as you can. When someone new follows you, you get a message and the option to follow them back. So, if you follow 2000 people and half of them follow you back... well, you get the idea.

Well, the problem with mass following people is that you don't really know what you're in for. So when someone who was networking out her movie reviews site over Buzz started following me and I followed her I stumbled upon something truly stupid: kids freaking out, wondering who this person is following them. "Who r u? Y r u following me? Stop following me? R u a raper?"

Now, here's why it's stupid:

First: if you are followed on Buzz, you can follow them back, meaning you can see each others posts, not follow them so they can see your posts but you don't have to see theirs, or you can just block them and they can't see your stuff. Its not hard the stop someone from following you.

Second: Odds are these kids actually followed the person back to leave the comments.

Third: Google profiles are easily accessible through Buzz, so wondering who a person is is pretty pointless when the answer is a click away.

For a demographic that's supposed to be internet savvy, they aren't showing it. In fact, I'm really starting to give credit to the people lobbying for better means of protection for kids online. Ultimately, its about being smart, which these kids aren't. If someone follows you and or friends you that you don't know and can find information about, or just seems sketchy, almost every social networking site has easy means to block those people. The first thing I do when I get a new follower on Buzz is check their Buzz Roll, and then probably they're profiles. I have not had an instance yet where I felt I needed to block someone on there, but I've done it on other sites. So far on Buzz my only decision was whether or not to follow them back.

For parents, if your kid is on a social networking site, then you need to be on there as well. Yeah, giving children their own space is all well and good, but that's why they have a bedroom. If parents don't start monitoring what their children are doing, then Big brother will eventually do it for them, and that's just one big load of bad. "We're doing it for the children." will be the battle cry and then the internet gets boiled and homogenized.

And if that happens I'm blaming every parent who was too busy and/or stupid to know that their 10 year old was sending dirty pictures out on the internet.

Sometime you get that reminder that kids are still kids. And most kids ain't that bright.

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