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Monday, October 14, 2019

Brave New World for Kids

I have often said, "I sure would not want to be raising a child right now."  It is a very different world than even 10 years ago and so much to watch out for without being a helicopter parent.  Kids absolutely need to know how to monitor their world and take hard (for their age) hits and get back up.  Meaning, you are there to always have that blanket of love and acceptance but your child needs to know how to put on their own coat of resilience AND zip it up.

The New York Times had two important parenting articles and both are issues I have raised before.


First up, your child and their (future) privacy.
Privacy nihilism” is an increasingly familiar term for giving up on trying to control data about oneself in the digital era.  

“We have become accustomed to trading convenience for privacy, so that has dulled our senses as to what is happening with all the data gathered about us,” said Ms. Jones, the law professor. “But people are starting to wake up.”
Only you and your family can determine how much information you send out into the world. But here's one family's story about long-ago sharing of photos and where they end up.
One day in 2005, a mother in Evanston, Ill., joined Flickr. She uploaded some pictures of her children, Chloe and Jasper. Then she more or less forgot her account existed.
Years later, their faces are in a database that’s used to test and train some of the most sophisticated artificial intelligence systems in the world. 

None of them could have foreseen that 14 years later, those images would reside in an unprecedentedly huge facial-recognition database called MegaFace. Containing the likenesses of nearly 700,000 individuals, it has been downloaded by dozens of companies to train a new generation of face-identification algorithms, used to track protesters, surveil terrorists, spot problem gamblers and spy on the public at large. 
 And MegaFace was create by UW.  I recognize a name in the article; I'll have to ring him up.

And yet this family does have a way to fight back:
By law, most Americans in the database don’t need to be asked for their permission — but the Papas should have been. 

As residents of Illinois, they are protected by one of the strictest state privacy laws on the books: the Biometric Information Privacy Act, a 2008 measure that imposes financial penalties for using an Illinoisan’s fingerprints or face scans without consent.
I'll have to compare Washington State's newest privacy law versus Illinois'.  And good on Illinois - this was passed in 2008? Ahead of their time.
It’s remarkable that the Illinois law even exists. According to Matthew Kugler, a law professor at Northwestern University who has researched the Illinois act, it was inspired by the 2007 bankruptcy of a company called Pay by Touch, which had the fingerprints of many Americans, including Illinoisans, on file; there were worries that it could sell them during its liquidation. 

No one from the technology industry weighed in on the bill, according to legislative and lobbying records.
Just to note, SPS had an issue when a software vendor got sold off to another software vendor (this was probably a decade ago).  The original vendor signed a contract with the district that if they did get sold, student data would automatically revert back to SPS.  The original company saw it differently and the new company said they owned it.  And good on SPS because they went to the mat and convinced the new company to give - that - data - back.

The second story is about how these white nationalists are trying to recruit white boys to their ranks and what you should look for.

At a time when the F.B.I. reports a 17 percent rise in hate crime incidents from 2016 to 2017, the most recent year for which there is data, white parents like me have had recent, terrifying reminders that we must prevent our sons from becoming indoctrinated by a growing racist movement that thrives online and causes real-life devastation.

Unfortunately, extremists know how to find new recruits in the very place our sons spend so much of their time: online. And too often, they’re more aware than we are of how vulnerable young white men are to radicalization.

Participating in the alt-right community online “offers the seductive feeling of being part of a brotherhood, which in turn validates their manhood,” Dr. Katz says. YouTubers and participants in chat forums like 4chan, the defunct 8chan and Discord “regularly denigrate liberal or progressive white men as soft, emasculated ‘soy boys’ and insufficiently aggressive or right-wing white men as ‘cucks.’”
The first sign was a seemingly innocuous word, used lightheartedly: “triggered.”
That’s because I know that word — often used to mock people who are hurt or offended by racism as overly sensitive — is a calling card of the alt-right, which the Anti-Defamation League defines as “a segment of the white supremacist movement consisting of a loose network of racists and anti-Semites who reject mainstream conservatism in favor of politics that embrace implicit or explicit racism, anti-Semitism and white supremacy.
I also took the opportunity to explain that calling someone who is upset or offended a “snowflake” or “triggered” is just a lazy — and often hypocritical — way to justify treating that person poorly.  
Next,
The next red flag: I watched my son scroll through Instagram and double-click on an image, lighting up a heart that signifies a “like.”

“Hold on a minute,” I said, snatching his phone. “Was that Hitler?”

“I’m not stupid enough to like a Hitler meme on purpose, Mom,” he said. “And anyway, I’m sure my friend shared it to be ironic.”

What really hooks many white teenagers is the alt-right’s insistence that white men are under attack in America, the true victims of oppression. If your child has already been punished for his opinions, this message is especially resonant. They find a home for their rage, a brotherhood of guys like them, and that oh-so-alluring heroic struggle — and that’s how an extremist is born.

It also seems to me, as a mom, that these groups prey upon the natural awkwardness of adolescence. Many kids feel out of place, frustrated and misunderstood, and are vulnerable to the idea that someone else is responsible for their discontent. When they’re white and male, they’re spoon-fed a list of scapegoats: people of color, feminists, immigrants, L.G.B.T.Q. people.
What to do?
Perhaps the best tool is prevention. Kids need to understand — before they encounter their first alt-right memes — what white supremacy looks like. It’s not just a person in a K.K.K. hood but also the smooth-talking YouTuber in the suit or the seemingly friendly voice in the video game forum.

If we avoid talking about our values about race and the experiences of marginalized people, strangers on the internet will be happy to share theirs.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Melissa,

I am surprised you would use the title “Brave New World” on Indigenous Peoples Day, especially considering that a Seattle Native American mother — at Hale HS — brought forth concerns that the book was racist. I think you may not realize how your writing sometimes comes across as less than culturally sensitive and even ignorant at times.

Signed,

Not silent

Mike said...

@Not silent Your comment goes to the heart of why The Conversation doesn't happen. Every word and idea must be prescreened before speaking in order to avoid stopping discussion so people like you can call out "Cultural insensitivity!". What say you grow up and clue into the fact this isn't a perfect world and neither are the people in it? If you want to live in a culture without tolerance for clumsy, often ignorant free speech, move away from American culture. Oh, that's right, you're fighting to establish black slave culture, Mexican, Central American, Native, every culture as equal. Well, they aren't. Nor, according to cultural anthropologists, can multiple cultures operate equally in one nation. While far from perfect, at least American culture eventually tries to acknowledge, accommodate and appreciate the heritage of all immigrants, Native peoples it conquered and descendants of a slave culture created and designed to always make its adherents something "other". Further improvement of our culture isn't going to be hastened by being politically correct or even sensitive at all times

Miranda, Right? said...

What book was racist? Shakespeare's Tempest? Cos he used the expression "brave new world" too. A play written by a white English dude in 1611, racist?! What a surprise.

Here, you go:
https://www.bl.uk/shakespeare/articles/post-colonial-reading-of-the-tempest

Melissa Westbrook said...

Not Silent, I was not referencing that book. It's a term. And I know that mother from Hale. I can see how it might not have been a good choice for today.

Miranda, Right? thanks for that; I learned something new.

Anonymous said...
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Melissa Westbrook said...

Just to note, this post has two clear topics. It is not an Open Thread so any off-topic remarks will be deleted.

Anonymous said...

And this: https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/10/14/colleges-quietly-rank-prospective-students-based-their-personal-data/

Social media and data collection have completely changed so much for our kids. Scary and sad.

-Seattle Parent

Anonymous said...

This post, " ....especially considering that a Seattle Native American mother — at Hale HS — brought forth concerns that the book was racist... " from someone on the radical left, just MIGHT be a reason why white boys are being drawn to radical right. Kids especially, like to rebel from rigid ways of thinking and this is a very rigid, narrow-minded view point.

Teresa

Unknown said...

Hi Melissa and All,

Mike and Teresa have already made the first points I would've made, so I'll just second those and add that these kinds of debates often look like white people trying to score points each other for being more liberal and virtuous than it is about changing the laws and policies that are the actual racism itself.

SP

Melissa Westbrook said...

I'm not even sure anyone has said a single comment about the two topics in the post. Sigh.