The Radicalization of Our Children Cybertraps 008

In this episode, Jethro and Frederick discuss the history of radicalization, challenges, and give advice for what parents can do to help their children.

Brief History

  • 1978 Invention of Bulletin Boards
  • 1979 Neo*Nazi Bulletin Board Set Up in West Virginia; attracted kids from area
  • Quickly followed by numerous others
  • In the mid*1990s, with the development and growth of the Web, these BBSs moved onto the Internet
  • Every online resource, from niche forums to wildly popular platforms like Facebook and YouTube, are used to spread hate speech and groom children
  • The problem intensified with the creation of social media in the late 2000s and early 2010s, along with growing child access to mobile devices
  • The combination of pandemic and lockdown is intensifying the problem

Some of the radicalizing groups that use technology to target kids

  • Neo-Nazis and White Supremacists
  • ISIS
  • QAnon

Social / Tech Problems

  • The cost of distributing speech is virtually “free”. some important social equity issues but also gives a platform for the fringes
  • It’s the World Wide Web, which makes it easier for fringe elements to coalesce online
  • Algorithms and hyperlinks are radicalizing all of us but especially our children. We’ve invented dark and dangerous rabbit holes
  • Stark contrast with books as an information technology
  • Overwhelmingly, the Internet is fueled by advertising. Controversy attracts eyeballs and clicks
  • Tech speech companies are torn between need to operate in a functioning, decent society and the need to make money

Legal Issues

  • Speech, even hate speech, is protected by the First Amendment to the US Constitution, which provides that “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech”
  • Corporations are not bound by the First Amendment; it applies only to governments and governmental agents
  • Services like Twitter and Facebook look like “public spaces” but they are not; they are private services regulated by terms and conditions.
  • Corporations are not required to do business with other companies, even if the primary function of one business is speech (so Amazon can stop hosting Parler
  • US law does not apply overseas (8chan, 8kun)
  • “Free” speech does not mean “free from consequences”

What can parents do?

  • Context, context, context. Many and persistent conversations with children about prejudice and the hate speech it can cause. Common Sense Media “Where Kids Find Hate Online”
  • As much as practical, limit unsupervised time spent online. Kids don’t radicalize over night but a lot of radicalization does take place after bedtime!!!
  • Particularly for younger children, consider the installation of filtering software. Use every parental control available
  • Pay attention to kid behaviors, attitudes, media interests, hobbies, etc. What games are they playing? Are they developing a surprising interest in chemistry or wiring?
Read Full Transcript

The Radicalization of our Children Cybertraps 008

Jethro Jones: 00:00:00 Hi, welcome to the cyber Travis podcast. I’m Jessica Jones, host of the podcast, transformative principal and author of the book, school X. How to redesign your school for the people right in front of you. I’m a former principal, all levels of K-12 education. 

Frederick Lane: 00:00:20 Greetings folks. I’m Fredrick lane, an author attorney, and educational consultant based in New York.

I’m the author of 10 books, including most recently cyber traps for educators. 2.0, raising cyber ethical kids and cyber traps for expecting moms and dads. All of which you can find on Amazon or through your favorite independent bookstore, Jethro, and I are teaming together, bringing you timely, entertaining, and useful information.

For teachers, parents and others about the risks arising from the use and misuse of digital devices 

Jethro Jones: 00:00:53 over the coming weeks and months, we’ll be talking with some of the nation’s leading experts in the fields of education, parenting, sociology, cyber safety, and more later this week, we have an interview with Akuna Oka, who is a debate teacher in Los Angeles.

What a fascinating conversation and very timely for our topic today. And we look forward to you joining us as we look at what it takes to navigate our increasingly high tech world 

Frederick Lane: 00:01:19 readings from the East coast there, 

Jethro Jones: 00:01:21 Jethro. Hey and good morning from the West coast. Good to see ya. You too 

Frederick Lane: 00:01:26 good to be here.

So as we had let people know, we were planning on having a journalist and alt-right expert, Sherry Wilson, join us live today, but we had to reschedule that. So, what we’re going to do instead today is to take some of the research that I’ve been doing for my forthcoming book, the rise of the digital mob, which is one of the ways that I wound up talking with Sherry incidentally.

And use that as a, as a starting place for discussing the issue of radicalization and particularly radicalization among our kids. And I think that, you know, for those of us who have been watching the events that took place in Washington, um, there’s a growing awareness that there’s a not insignificant percentage of the population that is increasingly radical or is sympathetic.

To some of the alt-right, um, ideas and concepts that have arisen. So I thought it might be useful to talk about how that has happened and what parents 

Jethro Jones: 00:02:29 can do. Yeah. I think that that is very important because, um, So as an educator, we learned that so many of these things happen in the home. And traditionally that has meant that these things, kids learn these things from their parents.

And what we’re seeing now is that it is so much easier. For kids to learn these things in the home, but not necessarily from their parents. And so I’m excited to talk about this topic, not because I think it’s amazing and awesome that these horrible things are happening, but because it’s, it’s a powerful topic that we actually can have more control over than we think.

So I’m excited to talk about that. Um, I think a good place to start would be to just talk about a brief history of where. This kind of stuff started. And, uh, you know, maybe I can chime in with some of my own personal experiences as I grew up with the internet becoming, um, more available in homes. 

Frederick Lane: 00:03:29 Well, I, I, I appreciate that.

And we’ll put a little bit of a Sharpie line under the phrase brief, because this is stuff that I’ve been living with for four years, and it could really, um, absorb too much of our morning. But I will say to you that, um, I think one of the things that’s interesting wholly apart from the fact that. Um, you have such practical experience, you know, in the classroom and as an administrator, um, and I’m coming at this from a little bit more of an academic or theoretical perspectives, so that’s a good mix.

But the other thing too is is that we’ve got just the right age difference, I think to have had very different experiences with respect to, uh, how we grew up with technology and, and some of the things that we saw as we did. So for me, a lot of this is, is really pretty visceral. The, the basic history that I want to focus on here, um, takes us back really to the late 1970s.

So in 1978, you had a couple of guys in Chicago who were running the compute, uh, the Chicago area, computer society. I may have that acronym wrong, but in any case, they were a bunch of computer hobbyists who get together to literally build PCs because that’s what people did back then. You know, they would swap parts and ideas and plans and so forth.

And a massive snowstorm descended on Chicago in 1978. So they couldn’t get together. And a couple of guys, one who knew hardware and one who knew software. Decided that they would try to create a virtual bulletin board so that people could post notices to each other without actually having to be physically together.

So they literally, over the course of a snow bound weekend, created the first computer bulletin board system. And that’s really cool. Right. That’s where it all gets started, where people could now dial into each other’s computers and exchange files and messages and so on and so forth. Literally in less than a year, some guy in West Virginia set up the first Neo Nazi bulletin board.

And this is, this is actually an entire chapter in the rise of the digital mob. So. Fairly significant moment. But one of the things that struck me when I was going through some of the papers from Pittsburgh was an interview with a dad in 1979, who had allowed his kid to build his own computer and discovered that he was staying up late at night, dialing in to the Neo Nazi bulletin port and remarkably, the reporter got the guy who ran that bulletin board.

Uh, to do an interview and he said, Oh yeah, we’re, we’re definitely going after the kids because the kids know how to use this technology. Their parents aren’t over their shoulder and we can get them young. Yeah. 

Jethro Jones: 00:06:19 And, and one thing that we know is that if you get kids, uh, I will quote scripture here. If you re, if you teach a child the way they should go, then when they’re older, they will not depart from it.

So if you instill values and beliefs in kids at a young age, then as they get older, then they tend to. Cling to those and stay connected with those. You know, you have mentioned that you are a, uh, an outlier in that you, most people become more conservative as they age. I feel like you’ve become more liberal, but what’s interesting is that, you know, that people tend to, to stay affiliated with their parents and their parents’ beliefs and what they were raised doing.

And especially with people my age, I see them going through these crises of. Understanding and trying to figure out whether they should continue to believe in what their parents taught or if they should strike out on their own. And it’s a very, very interesting phenomenon. Well, 

Frederick Lane: 00:07:17 it’s the you’re actually, I mean, this, this might be another whole show topic, but you’re tapping into a very visceral moment for me because I still remember the, the time that I told my parents that I had voted democratic for the first time, which was back in 1992.

And I think the only thing that would have been worse as if I had told my parents, I was becoming a Yankees fan that would have been beyond the pale. That’s crossing the line. That was just, that would be a bridge too far. And I haven’t, I haven’t done that despite growing very fond of New York city. Well, let’s 

Jethro Jones: 00:07:53 go before we do, though, the breaking up the idea of sports is a very important thing, because that is another way of how these same things happen.

That as you. You know, people have these fanaticism is related to sports and it’s, it’s, it’s interesting because the same types of things that work to get people to like sports teams can work to do to radicalize our children as well. So it’s an important thing to pay attention to and not to just, you know, think that it’s, that it’s nothing.

Um, it is 

Frederick Lane: 00:08:25 absolutely no accident that the symbol of the Trump campaign was a baseball cap. . It’s all the same gear. It’s all the same schwag, you know? And so you’re absolutely right. Jethro and I think that’s an important point is that. We, you know, w we tend to cluster into teams. I mean, I I’m, you know, you’re well aware that I’m in a blended family and when we first got the kids together, you know, we had the two boys in bunk beds and two rooms, right.

And we made the mistake of calling one, the Yankees dugout and the other, the red Sox stuck out. And it was, it just intensified the antagonisms that we were trying to overcome. It was a terrible mistake, but it was a microcosm of what’s happened in this country. So that’s, that’s. As I said, much, much other conversations to have about that.

But I think in terms of helping parents and educators understand how we got here, I mean, just a real quick walk through the changes in technology is useful because you know, this guy in West Virginia sets up a neo-Nazis bulletin board in 1979. It’s quickly followed by others. Uh, the Anti-Defamation league has done a series of studies over the years, showing the spread of these different, um, Neo Nazi white supremacists.

Now we call them all outright groups in the mid 1990s. Of course, you’ve got the development of the worldwide web, right 93 94. It was probably a little bit more your timeframe. You in terms of kind of tech awareness. 

Jethro Jones: 00:10:03 Yep. And so we got the internet in our house in about, um, 1990 or so. And then, um, I remember logging onto Bolton board systems and certainly, um, being exposed to not good things.

Yeah. And, and talk about not having your parents there and not knowing. You know what was going on. And then as I, as I got older and we got the internet at school, then, um, you know, I was, I was logging in making Alta Vista, uh, doing AltaVista searches. And, um, can’t remember the name of the websites that everybody made at that time, but I made one and connected with people and that’s the one.

Yep. And I, and I remember. Um, distinctly seeing some things. I think in one of our podcast episodes, we talked about me hearing about the anarchist cookbook in high school was thinking, I should, I should learn more about this and figure it out. And I quickly saw this, this dark tunnel of going into nothing good at all.

Um, on the, I remember sitting in the library on the school, computer librarians over there, she can’t see my screen. Doesn’t know what I’m doing. I know there wasn’t filtering software on those computers at that time. And I learned a ton of stuff that I, you know, wish I had never known about. 

Frederick Lane: 00:11:25 Yeah. And, and, and the fact that you didn’t continue down the rabbit hole is a reflection of those family values that you’re talking about.

And I, you know, and maturity, right. Because you know, at that age, what are you probably 16, 17, something like 

Jethro Jones: 00:11:40 that. Probably 14, 

Frederick Lane: 00:11:41 15, something like, right. So, right. But imagine cognitively, if you’re eight, nine or 10, You know, you’re able to read, but you’re not necessarily able to process and put things in a context that would help you understand what the risks are.

Right. How dark and how far that rabbit hole might go. Yeah. So anyway, w last couple of points real quickly, and then we’ll, we’ll move on is, is just, I think that what parents need to reflect on is the way in which, um, these, the web started everything, right? The bulletin boards come online, hyperlink technology kicks in.

So now it’s easy to go from 0.1 to 0.2 to 0.3, but then you fold in mobile devices. And the issue with the mobile devices is it is so much more difficult for parents to monitor what their kids are doing and where they’re doing it and what they’re seeing. And. Yeah, there’s there’s in many cases. Um, in my experience in talking to parents, the mobile devices are more powerful than the computer in the home because they, they have new generations every year.

And so the capabilities of the kids to see materials, to find materials. Um, and just share them even more concerningly, um, is much, much greater. And so that’s, that’s a really rapid walkthrough. Some of the technological changes. Um, I encourage people to read the book when it comes out. There’ll be a lot more detail.

Okay. But, um, that’s just, I think the background in the framework that we need to start with to understand the kinds of psychological changes that can affect kids. 

Jethro Jones: 00:13:25 And as you, as you bring those things up, one thing that stands out to me is the idea of being able to share, um, it was, it was challenging in the early nineties to share, but not impossible.

Um, and it was. But now it is so easy to share something that it just is mind boggling, how quickly something can spread around the whole entire world in no time, which you know, is just frightening in many respects. Yeah. 

Frederick Lane: 00:13:55 Well, I think everybody should be legitimately frightened because we’ve seen where this can go, right?

I mean, we have evidence looping on CNN and MSNBC and all the rest of it, about where this can lead. If we don’t have the structures in our society to help mediate and ameliorate some of these influences, um, you know, there’s when we talk about the worldwide web, I think we under estimate the world and the web parts of that sentence, that phrase, right?

Yes. You know, I think, uh, you know, Yeah. Interesting. Because so much of the political debate has been about the threat of globalization, right? Economically it’s been tremendously challenging. Um, we’ll various points. We’ll talk about robotics. We’ll talk about automation. We’ll talk about artificial intelligence.

All of these things are coming, but the issue of globalization to me that is, is most daunting is the ability of. People who would not be in a position to coalesce and to form plans and to share etiologies and beliefs to now be able to do so anywhere in the world. And that is a, a profound truth that we really need to confront.

Jethro Jones: 00:15:23 And it’s, it’s not just, you know, it’s one thing. If you can get a group together physically and do something, but it’s a whole nother thing. If you can make all these plans, do all these different things and be prepared to take action, um, at a specific time. And that’s where, um, I really don’t think that, um, our society is equipped to prevent or to handle.

Those kinds of things happening, and these can be gatherings for good or gatherings for evil or anything in between. And that’s the important thing is that. W because of the ability to do this, um, you to, to coalesce, as you say, yeah, you don’t have to have any warning, you know, in the past you may have had, you know, you’re sending letters or, or making phone calls to get people to do something.

When now it doesn’t need to be that. And you know, one of, one of the stories that I’ve heard a lot about is where a. Uh, you know, a person was radicalized on the internet and then they were preparing to plant a bomb and then the FBI catches them, you know, just before that was going to happen. And there’s so much to that story that, um, it’s.

It’s just frightening how quickly those things can escalate into something that’s completely out of control. So let’s, let’s shift into a talk about some of the social and tech problems that we, um, that we see with this. 

Frederick Lane: 00:16:56 Sure. Um, I think that’s, that’s a good segue. It, it, it is sad. That aspect was so innocent at one time.

And I think a lot of the underlying theme of the work I’m doing is, is really kind of a paradise, you know, in the sentence. That’s the latte about the launching of the internet and all of these things. We used to think of the internet facilitating flash mobs, right? People got together on the spur of a moment to times square and, you know, maybe break out airport or something like that.

And it was just, it, it, it, it, we have seen how it can be so much darker and I think. One of the things that drives this is, um, and, and one of the tensions we face is the relationship between this coalescing and the values of the first amendment, right. Because what we’re talking about at root. Is communication.

We’re talking about speech and in the United States, at least, and really we deserve a little bit of credit for being the first nation to actively defend speech as a human. Right. But one of the challenges we face is how do we get the FBI to stop bomb-making. So when we talk about free speech with respect to the first amendment, What we’re talking about is really freedom from restraint.

So the, you know, the fact that Congress shall make no law abridging, the freedom of speech means basically that the government can’t prevent us from speaking, but there’s a couple of other senses that are relevant in this as well. So there’s. The sense of being free from costs. And that’s one of the things that the internet has made so challenging is that it is reduced the cost of speaking to almost zero.

And one of the upshots of that of course, is that it has vastly expanded the pool of potential speakers. And in theory, That’s a great thing. And oftentimes an application, that’s a great thing because more voices are able to contribute to the public discourse. But what we’ve lost sight of is that last sense of being free, which is that speech is not free from consequences, that there are things people say, which can have a.

Tremendously negative impact on people’s lives, uh, can obviously incite misbehavior of one kind or another. Um, in some cases can be actual threats. Of harms. So the challenge is really how do we balance these different kinds are different senses of free speech in a way that’s effective, uh, within our society and ultimately, and hopefully is protective of our children.

Jethro Jones: 00:19:58 Yeah. And for some reason, my video is not just working in the middle, so we’ll just do the best we can 

Frederick Lane: 00:20:05 plowing. 

Jethro Jones: 00:20:08 So, um, so talk about a little bit about advertising and how that impacts things and the controversy fueling things. Because I think that those two pieces are really important to talk about here because as they.

Become part of our life. Then they, they lead to radicalization in other areas as well. And so people will glom onto something when, um, when that may not be the truth itself, either. 

Frederick Lane: 00:20:38 Sure. I think that’s a, that’s a great point because, um, you know, obviously even if our ability to speak is basically free on the internet, that doesn’t mean that the services that.

Enable that speech, um, can operate freely. So for instance, I mean, you and I, we, we need to pay for internet access. We, uh, use services like, you know, for instance, Twitter or Facebook, or what have you that spend billions of dollars on infrastructure and, and transmission and all the rest of that. So those very real world costs need to be paid in some way.

And. For a bunch of different reasons. The overarching model for the generation of revenue on the internet is advertising base. That, you know, we’re all familiar with the concept of advertising. People want to attract eyeballs. They want to attract consumers to their products, their services. What have you?

Um, the internet is difficult, right? Because it’s, it’s. It’s very challenging to figure out what the appropriate return on investment is for any given advertisement. And one of the methods, one of the metrics that they use is, is eyeballs, right? How many people are viewing a given post or a given page or a given site in a particular period of time?

The reality is. That these companies, particularly the social media companies have discovered that controversy attracts eyeballs. And the more controversy there is, the more eyeballs there are, the more engagement there is with a particular website and so forth. So, you know, it used to be that sex sells in, in the social media context, controversy and antagonism cell, and the algorithms that generate.

The feeds and the algorithms that serve up the advertisements are trainable and they learn this value. They learn the value of antagonism and controversy. So they tilt towards our worst behaviors. And one of the things that you see, particularly with a site like YouTube, for instance, which has just mind-boggling.

Amounts of content on it is that the algorithm will suggest on the right hand side, other things that might be interesting. And because there’s this tilt towards controversy, it is very easy to create a slope that takes someone down to our worst impulses. 

Jethro Jones: 00:23:29 Yeah, absolutely. Seth Godin, um, has said numerous times that, um, if, if left to its own devices, the whole entire internet would be pornography from the word go because that’s what it always leads to.

And so. I’ve certainly seen this as the middle aged male. You know, if I’m on Instagram, the things that are popping up are lots of scantily clad women, um, you know, doing these little dances that they do on Tik TOK. And that, that is always in my, uh, suggested you 

Frederick Lane: 00:24:04 because of the rest of the guys in your age 

Jethro Jones: 00:24:06 group.

Exactly. Right. And so, so that algorithm, you know, there’s, there’s some of that and, you know, the, uh, At one thing that I noticed was the, um, the videos that were recommended by YouTube on my school’s IP address. This is what’s really fascinating is, you know, we’re using YouTube for educational purposes as the adults.

Well, our kids are using it for much different purposes. They’re watching video game feeds. They are listening to music. Uh, like all the time and, uh, they’re looking up, you know, whatever pornography type things they can find on the school website. So if you go to the school with a clean browser and clean computer and you go to YouTube, the things that pop up there because of the IP address that you’re at are different than the, than the things that would pop up someplace else or they’re different than when you sign in.

And that’s just my personal experience, no like studies or anything, but I find that very, very fascinating. 

Frederick Lane: 00:25:10 It is absolutely fascinating. And I think that, you know, people are, you know, well, let me back up a second. My sense of it is that all of this stuff is still relatively new, right? I mean, for some, I mean, Google is what maybe 20 years old or a scooch over that.

And you know, this, this algorithmic science stuff, we’re really talking a decade plus, you know, in terms of. The sophistication and the slowly growing awareness of what the implications are. Right. So we probably have realistically another generation before we start to see people more fully understanding.

What they’re doing when they program and, you know, looking ahead a little bit, when we start getting into artificial intelligence and, you know, with his, some philosophy as to where the line is between an algorithm and artificial intelligence, but, you know, the issue is going to be, what are the foundational conditions?

For those technologies in terms of, you know, their, their assumptions and implications and so forth. Um, there have been some terrible studies that have come out. Vis-a-vis algorithmic, facial recognition and people of color. They do so much fundamentally worse, uh, for a variety of different reasons. So these are all going to be issues that we’re going to have to confront, but, you know, I think for the moment.

We should be thinking a little bit more about the impact within the schools and within the families, because we can certainly talk about these big theoretical issues, but at the end of the day, you know, if you’re a parent worried about what their kid is doing on YouTube or in the schools, you’re trying to confront some of the things that the kids are bringing into the classroom.

What do we do about that? 

Jethro Jones: 00:27:10 Well, and that’s, that’s where every, every time we do one of these conversations, it comes back to this. And we’re going to say some of the same things, but, but that’s because the solution is simple. It’s just not easy to do. And that’s, that’s the challenge is, um, you know, one thing we have to understand is context matters greatly, and we need to have.

Many conversations with our children about what they’re seeing, how they’re interacting with it and what it can cause. And so another brief example from my time as a principal is that, um, It hate speech over the past few years has become this really big issue. And, um, one of the ways, many years ago, and for many years, I’ve been trying to deal with hate speech is to, um, let kids know that words are hurtful and that you can’t say certain things.

And this is where bullying and cyber bullying and bystanders and upstanders has come up. And, you know, something that we’ll get into more conversations on in the future. But what we’ve seen is that. It, we teach our children that words matter and that they can hurt people’s feelings by saying things. And, and when you start thinking about it in this way of, of extreme prejudice and hate speech, that is very real and literal.

Uh, we need to understand that just calling somebody stupid or saying something that seems off the cuff can be a sign of something bigger. So getting an understanding of what’s going on and why someone is saying that. So let me give you an example. Um, I had a student who had a, uh, Um, who would go around calling people Saracens and I did not know what a Sarason was.

Frederick Lane: 00:29:00 That’s a very old insult. Yes. Um, 

Jethro Jones: 00:29:05 and so I had no idea what that meant and. I, so I, as I do with children, when I’m working with them, I asked him what it meant and why he was saying it. And it is a derogatory term for Arab Muslims that the Christians from Europe used in the middle ages. And so I was like, where in the world is this coming from?

And at my school, we didn’t have any Muslims that I knew of. And so this kid learned something, learned that it was an insult. And started saying it and, and in talking with him, you know, he knew exactly what it meant. He knew that he wasn’t calling anybody that who was actually a Muslim, as far as we were aware in our school at that time.

And to him, it was all just some big joke. And, and so. You know, talking with him about where he learned that from, he eventually explained that he learned it from, uh, some website that he was surfing and they were talking about this in there. And, and what I understood from what he was saying was that it was some sort of website that was discussing these types of things, and he didn’t understand.

The impact that that could have by continuing to use that phrase. Um, even though nobody understood it and nobody was directly targeted, um, in that regard, but he didn’t understand that there’s a deeper meaning to that and that it wasn’t wise for him to, to do that. And, you know, in, in talking with, uh, well, I’ll just I’ll stop the story there.

It was just fascinating to me to see how he. Interpreted that and understood that, and didn’t have the context that he needed and we needed to discuss that and go through that so that he could understand it better. 

Frederick Lane: 00:30:49 That is actually one of the more fascinating stories I’ve heard Jethro 

Jethro Jones: 00:30:55 a lot more where that came from.

I 

Frederick Lane: 00:30:56 was good. I’m sure you do. And that’s one of the great things about this podcast, but the other thing is that man, you know, a 500 year old insult that, that that’s a new one for me. Um, yeah, look.

Kids in my experience, kids in my experience are relatively quick to find the pressure points, right? The trigger points for language that they’re learning to experiment with, that it touches on one of my favorite rants. And I’m sure we’ll, we’ll do this many times, but you know, the, the, the relationship between technology and empathy, right.

Because really what you’re talking about is a combination of empathy. I shouldn’t say this because it might hurt somebody and, um, intellectual maturity. I need to understand why this might be hurtful given the context. In which the word arises, but it seems to me, yeah, that empathy is the starting place.

And one of the real concerns we have is that as we are allowing kids to use devices at earlier and earlier ages, the very nature and design of those devices is interfering with, with the development of empathy. And that, that makes all of these issues more complicated as the kids get older. 

Jethro Jones: 00:32:21 Yeah. And empathy is something that we try to instill at a young age and is extremely difficult because as a child, you are taken care of by someone else all the time, you are supervised all the time and trying to understand how someone else would feel is a really difficult.

Um, skill to understand it takes a lot of time and energy. 

Frederick Lane: 00:32:45 It does take a lot of time, but one of the things that, you know, and this is a shout out for the new unexpecting parents, one of the things that that people need to realize is that so much of our empathy training occurs pre-verbal that kids are really learning this idea of the impact of their actions.

Even before they can talk. And then very early, of course, in their lines, which development, when they’re learning about words in general, some of the feedback is don’t say that because that hurts my feelings and so forth, but really from very early ages, we’re learning as human beings. The impact of our actions on others and the more that not only the kids, but even more importantly, the parents are using devices.

Instead of doing that interaction, it is literally interfering with this development. And it’s one of these things a little bit like the weather, right. You know, a, any given measurement, isn’t that big a deal. But when you’ve got lots and lots and lots of phenomena happening, It becomes a problem. And if we are undercutting our human empathy at scale, then we do have some questions in terms of what impact that’s going to have on all of us.

Jethro Jones: 00:34:06 Yeah. So a couple of things first talk with your kids early and often about this second. Um, help them develop empathy by talking with them about that and helping them see how, um, how, how things that we say and do impact others. Um, One thing that I would add is adding in a filtering software at home, make sure that you are, you know, paying attention to what kids are accessing, use the parental controls that are available and make sure that they have, um, you know, you have conversations when they find something inappropriate that it’s not just a, Oh, they did that and now let’s move on or I’m afraid to talk to them, talk to them, figure out what’s going on and, and use those parental controls 

Frederick Lane: 00:34:52 you have.

Right. And I think closely related to that, Jethro is the sense of trying to, to be mindful of how much time kids are spending on devices and when they’re doing so, um, you know, obviously the pandemic has changed a lot of the dynamic, but I do think it’s important for parents to understand that while kids are not going to radicalize overnight

a lot of radicalization does take place after bedtime. And that’s when kids are vulnerable, they’re, they’re, uh, not really awake. They’re not necessarily paying attention to what they’re doing. It is easier for them to get sucked into things. Um, you know, a great idea is a family charging station that kicks in at some agreed upon time.

Uh, this is one of the issues that I talk about in raising cyber ethical kids. Every situation needs to be evaluated on its own terms, but I am increasingly convinced for both psychological and physiological reasons that late night device used by kids is, is really destructive. 

Jethro Jones: 00:36:07 Hmm. It is damaging. And I’ve, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.

Um, so many issues as a principal came because kids were on their devices late at night doing things that they should not have been doing in the first place. And then everything was compounded because it was at night. And so I love that phrase. You said the kids don’t radicalize overnight, but a lot of radicalization does take place after bedtime.

I think that is so profound and accurate.  It’s what I’ve seen play out over time. As kids have gotten more devices as they’ve been using them at night.  One of the things that we were trying to do at my previous middle school was create opportunities for kids to be able to use their devices in school.

And one of the, one of the criteria that we were working on was that in order to use your device at school, you had to commit and agree to charging your phone at night outside of your bedroom, that you weren’t allowed to take your phone into your bedroom with you as you went to bed, which was, you know, some could say that we’re overstepping our bounds as a school, but at the same time, that is such an important thing. In my family

we do have, all of our devices are charging outside of our bedrooms and we have a central location for any of the kids’ devices and, uh, another location for my wife’s phone and my phone. And we, we think that is just so important that we have definitely taken the stand on that to say, We’re not going to do this.

Um, 

Frederick Lane: 00:37:36 well, and if, if I can Jethro, I think number one, I think that’s fantastic. I, I actually didn’t know that. And I applaud you guys for doing that because I think it’s so important. Look as a kid. You know, there were no devices, you know, apart from quite literally an am FM radio and a flashlight, you know, those were my big technology tools when I was growing up.

So I would, you know, I would read, you know, the big, get the big, you know, of course my parents knew I was doing this, but the big defiance right. Was to stay up and read a book under the covers with a flashlight. And I read voraciously. I just absolutely loved it. It occurred to me when we were prepping for this particular podcast, that one of the things about books is, you know, putting aside the physical object, the fact that they’re not hyperlinked, you know, we’re talking a physical book here.

The fact that a physical book is not hyperlinked is one of its greatest virtues because the experience of reading is contained to that object. And yes, it can lead you in different directions. You know, books have always been viewed with suspicion by some authorities, but the, the impact and the ability to, if you will, radicalize is vastly lower and slower than devices.

And, you know, I think we really need to think about. The pace at which our kids get information and, and quickly, this is the thing it’s very much like being in a speeding car. If, if you’re going too fast, it’s harder to handle the curves that come up. Right. And so when we’re trying to raise kids who are empathetic, who are thoughtful, who have an understanding of, of their function in society or their role in society, They need time to develop those things and these devices and the internet categorically don’t give them that time.

Jethro Jones: 00:39:48 Yeah, that’s, that’s such a beautiful sentiment in, on my other podcast. I recently interviewed Chloe Sutterfield who has cerebral palsy and was an amazing, amazing guest and totally fascinating to hear what she had to talk about. However, the thing she said that really stuck out to me was, um, did I say stuck, stuck out to me?

Excuse me. What stuck out to me was that she said, We don’t have to go so fast in education. And what I fear is that our determination to race to the top and not leave anybody behind, we have focused on moving quickly and trying to check everything off. When in reality, we have to recognize that these things take time and in my.

In my professional careers, I’ve helped schools figure out how to slow things down and let kids drive their own learning. Instead, I’ve seen really great things happen because the kids are not rushed, that they can take time on something and not feel like they have to finish those 50 problems tonight for homework, but that they can take time.

To learn what they need to learn and not feel so rushed to do it. And I think that that is just, um, a bit of a vital point as well. So I appreciate that you, that you said that 

Frederick Lane: 00:41:05 well, you know, I think we’ve chatted a little bit about how much I enjoy cooking and food prep and stuff like that. And, you know, there’s an analogy, right?

To the, to the fast food, slow food debate that occurs in our world and, and the relative. Values to us as human beings of choosing one over the other, you know, don’t get me wrong. I like my burger on the side of the highway as much as anybody else, but, you know, in terms of the overall impact on our society, this is another area where our push our rush.

To do things has been detrimental. So that’s, that’s another conversation, I think since we’re kind of on the brink of, of wrapping things up here, what I’d like to close with are a few suggestions for parents who are a little bit further along and might be worried about what their kids are getting into.

And, you know, a lot of that I think, um, can be addressed by being more aware. Of kids in general and, and, you know, obviously parents have varying degrees of awareness of their kids and what they’re doing. And it’s all very challenging because teenagers in my experience are trying to carve out. A sense of identity and a sense of privacy.

And so they may not necessarily be in the most sharing mood in that stretch. Nonetheless, there’s nobody who knows their own kids better than parents. And the challenge is to view them over a period of time. That is to say, are there significant changes in their behaviors, especially in their attitudes, towards things, um, pay attention to the media that they’re consuming, um, have their hobbies shifted.

Are there. Um, and you know, this was somewhat facetious, but, you know, are they now developing a surprising interest in chemistry or, or electrical wiring? I mean, these are things you want to pay attention to as they’re happening. And, and I hope that this will encourage the kinds of conversations that we talked about at the beginning because, um, you know, this, this is the, the long leg work that really goes into providing kids with a good foundation to move forward.

Jethro Jones: 00:43:28 Yeah, absolutely. And as, as you mentioned, it’s sometimes difficult to be involved in what your kids are doing, but it’s vitally important to do that because as you said, parents are the ones who know their kids best parents are also the ones who have the most. And the most ability to impact their kids’ lives.

And yes, they need charismatic adults as JC Paul calls them to support them and, and help them who are not their parents. But at the same time, the parents play a huge role, even when they think that they don’t. And so, um, in closing, I would just like to say, you know, if you. If you are suspecting anything or struggling with anything with your kids, I would say talk to them, not in a you’re in trouble for doing this, but help me understand what you’re experiencing and seek to understand what they’re going through and what they’re experiencing.

First and foremost, and save your frustration and anger for later, even though it’s going to be right there on the surface, boiling up, do your best to save that for later and just try to understand what they’re experiencing, what they’re going through. 

Frederick Lane: 00:44:35 Aye, aye. Jethro. I think that’s a great way to put it.

It’s a good closing note. I, you know, look, we, we will be talking about issues of, of speech and, and personal responsibility. In many of our podcasts, I’m sure. And, and we don’t want to suppress the exploration that kids will naturally want to do. But I think that at the same time, both from an educational and a parental point of view, we need to recognize that there are lines that kids can cross, which will have a seriously negative impact on their.

Careers, their family choices, et cetera. And the goal here is to help them get to the point where they can make informed decisions before stumbling into one of these separate traps. 

Jethro Jones: 00:45:24 Yeah. Yeah. Very well said. And 

Frederick Lane: 00:45:27 excellent. Well, it’s been a great conversation, 

Jethro Jones: 00:45:29 Jethro. Really appreciate again, just scratching the surface.

Frederick Lane: 00:45:33 I don’t know. We’ll we’ll be here. We’ll be here all week. Um, so anyway, that wraps up this episode of the cyber traps podcast. In the coming weeks, we will continue our coverage of emerging trends in a variety of areas, including digital misconduct, cyber safety, cyber security, privacy, and the challenges of high-tech parenting along the way.

We’ll talk to our growing collection of interesting experts who are helping us to understand the risks and the rewards of digital technology. 

Jethro Jones: 00:46:02 You can find this cyber traps podcast on all your favorite podcast apps. And we hope that you’ll share the show with your friends and colleagues for those who are watching live on Facebook today.

Welcome. Thank you for being here. There were a few people watching them. We appreciate it. Please share this video out, help people see it. And if you’d like to follow us on Twitter, I’m at Jethro Jones and Fred is at cyber traps. If you’re still listening, you must have enjoyed this podcast. And we ask you to please leave a five-star rating and review in your podcast, player of choice.

We appreciate having you in our audience and look forward to having you join us for our next episode, which this week we’ll be. Akuna Uka. Who’s going to talk more about this particular topic and how to, uh, help your kids, uh, find good things on the.

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