Youngsters Starting Internet Careers

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Twenty years ago, the options for home working were relatively small, but that’s changed hugely.  For the road weary executive who’s spent years in offices and travelling up and down motorways then it’s often a welcome release.  However for the young person just starting out in life it’s not always the best start to working life.

I was talking to young person who did remote support for an ISP firm, answering calls primarily via web chat.  You’ve probably seen the little ’get help’ buttons on websites – well he was someone who answered these.  He worked entirely from home apart from the occasional meeting and training session.  One thing I was very aware when talking to this person was their rather awkward manner especially in groups.

The problem is that when we start work for the first time, we learn a lot about dealing with social situations.  Meeting people, socialising even just chatting with colleagues over coffee, these are soft skills we pick up. The fact is that communicating online and in real life is a very different experience.  the worry is that in the times of increasing teleworking that many young people are missing out on this essential part of development.

It’s a danger we also see with children who now spend a large part of their social live in a virtual world.  Ask a teenage girl how many of her hundreds of ’friends’ on Facebook that she’s actually met and you may be surprised. Our jobs, our social life and quite a lot of everything else is increasingly happening in the virtual world.

If you’re young, a job like an internet marketer or remote worker might seem a great idea, but you will really miss out on a lot of life experiences by doing this too early.  Making your living online obviously has benefits, especially when you can travel while earning at the same time.  Lots of web based jobs involve very little social contact, creating web sites, promoting them using various automation tools – or just making a living out of SEO like this.

There’s the added incentive that to some extent location doesn’t matter.  If you start investigating these areas you’ll come across that lucky breed who actually live quite a nomadic life travelling around the world whilst actually developing a very profitable online business.  Some are Internet marketers, bloggers or involved in education and coaching, all have realised that work doesn’t have to dictate where they live, it can be down to choice.  There are certain logistical issues particularly if you try working from certain countries which don’t have access to payment processors like Paypal or perhaps have filtering and blocking in place like Thailand.  There are ways and means around these too though,  use proxies and VPNs just like this one which is popular for accessing UK Television from abroad.

Good advice is to try and develop those all important social skills in a normal working environment first.  There’s plenty of years to retreat back into the online world when you are older and possibly a little wiser.

Greed, Materialism and TV ADs

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For any parent of finite means the feeling will be very familiar.  That time just before Christmas when every commercial break on childrens TV seems to be packed full of extremely expensive gifts.  Plastic rubbish that takes hours to put together which retails at £49.99 – you also know that twenty minutes after unwrapping they’ll have lost interest.

It’s hardly surprising in some ways that there are frequently pieces in the press about how materialistic young people are becoming.  Children are bombarded with advertisements in their daily lives.  Even games that you buy for computer consoles and mobile phones are normally stuffed full of advertisements for more games or add ons.

A study of 8-11 year olds in the Netherlands is the latest to point the finger at TV advertising – citing a ’positive causal effect on materialism’.  In effect TV commercials are increasing childrens desire for material items but worse are leading them to equate happiness with  the aquisition of these items.

The problem is that it takes adults quite a few years to come to the conclusion that on  the whole material things don’t make you really happy.  And we’ve had it easy, we’ve grown up with only a couple of TV stations and very basic advertising.  Our children are targeted specifically with extremely aggressive and very manipulative commercials.  Combined with other forces directed to us at the internet like this post – it’s no wonder our children can get confused at times.

The research showed strong links with how children valued material things.  The study then regulated the children’s exposure to advertising and tried to measure a shift in perceptions.  The strong link between heavier viewing of such adverts and a materialistic attitude to possessions was observed.  IN effect TV adverts make children more materialistic.   It’s something that crosses social and national divides, bear in mind that children are not restricted to the TV and adverts of their native land.  If they use the internet they can access any media sites they like, see this web page which shows to watch BBC Iplayer in the USA, although there aren’t actually any adverts on the BBC to be fair.

So what can parents do?  Well the obvious one is to cut down on the amount of adverts that children and young people watch.  It’s not always easy but devices like Sky, Tivo allow programmes to be recorded and adverts skipped.  Similarly there’s more control with watching online and watching shows without adverts – the BBC in the United Kingdom is an obvious example.  IF you’re not in the UK then check this site out – http://www.uktv-online.com/ which can show you how to use technology to access the wonderful world of CBBC and Cbeebies – all quality childrens TV with no advertising at all.

 

Internet Could Divide the UK

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It’s a commonly held assumption that the internet will on the whole bring people together.  It’s easy to think this, of course it’s the  greatest communication medium of the modern world – we can speak and talk with people across the planet with ease.  However a recent report has suggested that rather than bring communities together there is a danger that we should think carefully about the negative aspects of the internet.

Of course there are aspects of the internet that are the ultimate social leveller, the potential is there for people of different races, creeds and religions to come together to discuss their lives and beliefs.  However is this what actually happens?  The report suggests that in fact the internet often brings like minded people together who then create very isolated communities and groups.  It can reinforce any sort of behaviour both good and bad.

Anyone who has ever looked inside a forum with strong views and beliefs will see how people with an opposite view are often treated.  Take a simple example of a Teams football forum, the members will rarely mix with other supporters and any who do wander in are often treated rudely and aggressively.

How these virtual communities develop is not fully understood but it is clear they can have a very significant impact upon peoples lives.  Many youngsters have many more digital friends than physical ones and they will likely form them with very specific groups of people.  Although tech savvy and able to utilise technology from various sources like VPNs and proxies for instance to bypass content filters and firewalls – as demonstrated on this site.

Obviously social sites like Twitter and Facebook don’t intentionally create isolated groups, yet even here the technology is based on ’likes’ and ’preferences’ which slowly create specific groups within groups even amongst your digital friends.

Tips for Parents with Online Kids

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Our children all grow up, and their increasing independence can come as a shock to many parents.  In years gone by it was hard enough to manage but nowadays parents have the internet to deal with as well.  The reality is that children will extend their new found independence online as well as in the real world, yet sometimes they are unaware of the dangers that lurk there.

Anyway here’s a few pointers that might help parents stay in touch with their children’s online life.

Stay Involved – This is important, try and keep involved with what your child is doing online.  For instance if they spend loads of time on Facebook, create your own account and send your kids a friend request, this will allow you to see the majority of their public activities and stay in touch.

Set Boundaries – kids on the internet respond just as well to limits and boundaries online as they do in the offline world.  Make the boundaries reasonable and discuss them with  your children.

Consider Parental controls – these help you implement boundaries.  They can work on virtually any online platform and can help control your children’s online activity.  Again be reasonable, don’t try and behave like a despotic regime and block everything.  If you do your children will soon discover avoidance sites and proxies like this site – and your parental controls will end up being null and void.

Tell them What to do if something goes wrong – every child should know what to do if they have a problem when online.  Knowing what to do when you’re worried or need help is vital for children exploring their online world.  Be there for your child to approach without fear of repercussions or punishment.

Of course your children will push back the boundaries in the virtual world, it’s called exploring.  However an involved parent will get an early warning if there are issues or problems happening with regards to your children.  The internet is a part of all our lives now whatever our opinions on it, parent’s would be well advised to stay up to date !