I organized a parent education night at Roosevelt and we had, as our first speaker, a parent who is also a psychologist that specializes in teens and electronic addiction. It turned out to be less of a talk and more a guided discussion. It was great because many of us had the same issues about video games, ipods, cell phones and internet use (interestingly, tv never came up). The point was raised that our children have been born into an electronic world and never known differently (unless they were Amish - even kids without computers in their homes encounter them at school). For them, these items are like appendages.
What is troubling to me is the long-term ramifications of some of the uses of these items. If you own a cell phone (or your child does), there is also likely a camera in it. Anyone can be shot anywhere at anytime doing almost anything and zip! There it goes up on a blog or MySpace or Facebook. And once it's on the Internet, it may be impossible to know where else it is posted or how long it will float around.
I saw that a London newspaper had found out that either Facebook or MySpace (I forget which) has a page where girls and young women are posting the worst pictures of themselves and their friends drunk. In bushes, half-clothed or passed out in bathtubs. This is the kind of thing that can hurt a kid trying to get an internship or a job or even college admission (and yes, people in charge of those areas do look on Facebook and MySpace if they are having a hard time making a decision).
And the current worst example of all? The UW student in Italy who is now accused of collaborating in her roommate's murder at the hands of the student's boyfriend and boss. (The details are all very sketchy and change daily. It is so sad for all the parents.) This girl had a blog and was on both MySpace and Facebook. The result is that everyone who was listed as a "friend" has been contacted by reporters (even if they didn't even know her). The saddest part is things she wrote are now being dissected for clues.
It's ironic that we've had arguments here over signing or not signing your name. Our kids may be putting out photos and video and information about themselves that may hurt them someday. I haven't been keeping up with current parenting magazines or books but I hope there are warnings out there because this a very different world than when we grew up.