Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Kids and the Internet - it's a good thing | csmonitor.com

By its very nature, this blog of mine has a pessimistic theme. It is perversely hoping to catch the first stirrings of the whirlwind, which, if it comes and if it is strong enough, will sweep the country clean of its authoritarian political tendencies (i.e. George W. Bush & company).

But, I thought it might be worthwhile to note another major development -- a positive one for the country and the world. Recently, the Republicans were giving credit to the execrable "No Child Left Behind" act, for some notable gains in education -- particularly reading and writing. This might actually be real. After television produced a generation or two of illiterates (a fact that might have a little something to do with the horrifying political complexion of the country), the internet may be reversing the trend, in a big way.

Kids and the Internet - it's a good thing | csmonitor.com: "My daughter discovered online journals, or 'blogs,' when she was 16. After a lot of negotiating, she was allowed to start her blog on www.xanga.com Her 'xanga' had to be accessible by me. She couldn't post her real name, photos of herself, or her location, and I encouraged her to warn her friends not to either. But in keeping an eye on her xanga, I also had access to her friends' xangas. Surprise - this opened me up to a whole new world of insight into today's teenager. These kids can write.

To keep a blog going, you have to have the discipline to write daily. This puts today's young bloggers on the fast track to future Pulitzers. To keep your friends coming back, you have to be interesting, funny, intelligent, relevant. These kids are all that and more. Once I got past the immature spelling and punctuation (along with usual teen slang and vulgarity), I was treated to some of the best poetry I've ever read. All of their blogs together are a veritable anthropological study of high school life. One senior I know has, in four years, transformed from what seemed like functional illiteracy - incomplete sentences, poor spelling - into a blossoming philosopher headed for a major university.

Aside from the keyboard and multitasking skills they've developed, the substance of what they're writing is way beyond what mine was at that age. Sure, their mechanics might be rough at first, but over time that rights itself. What's more important is they've got something to say, and the Internet gives them the means to say it. Don't be surprised if the rising generation of Internet users turn out to be the most articulate and best-informed generation in recent history."

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