Have you ever tried to look yourself up on Google? If you haven’t appeared in a viral video or you haven’t cured cancer, chances are, your named won’t pop up too many times on the search engine. However, this doesn’t mean that your information is not on the internet.
Most teenagers have already had this talk at least once in their lives. Don’t talk to strangers on the internet. Don’t put your life on Facebook. Yet somehow, it is still incredibly easy to fall prey to numerous traps on the interweb.
At the “What’s Up Online“ presentation at the Vancouver Public LibraryÂ on Tuesday, March 6, 2012, Â keynote speaker Merlyn Horton, Executive Director of SOLOS, talked about emerging trends in online culture. With the latest technology rampant in the hands of all teenagers, no information is hidden and everything is shared. In fact, 20% of teens have sent nude pictures of themselves to their boyfriends/girlfriends, or even to strangers. These images can easily circulate to more people. Horton comments, “We don’t have a new breed of teenagers…by documenting these acts, we’re changing the consequences of them.” Twenty years ago, “mooning” could have been the equivalent to sexting. However, 20 years ago, there was nothing digital to make actions permanent and consequences dire.
The digital world is becoming a giant playground for the young and younger. “Eleven-year-olds with cameras in their bedrooms is like putting a big Uzi under their beds,” says Horton. Whatever images these children put on the internet will end up in very large, dense international collections. Archives.org is one such organization.
With access to nearly anything and everything, children have began to seek out pornography at a much younger age. The average age of initial internet exposure to porn is believed to be eight. But it isn’t so much the exposure than the manipulation of such exposure that is poisoning children and youth. Horton argues that “technology is changing our sexuality.” Twenty years ago, there was a limit to pornography as it mainly came in print. Now with the interweb, access is bottomless and limitless. In fact, technology has become a vital component of the sex industry.Â Sex toys such as the cyber sex suit has populated the industry in light of new technology. But without a doubt, there are always repercussions.Â For instance, since pornography is known to show sex as a performance rather than an interpersonal relationship, there is a correlation between porn consumption and erectile dysfunction in men.
Although the waves of technology has improved our lives, for every action we make online, there is a consequence. Horton advises with these wise words: “Who you are online is going to be part of you for the rest of your life.”
Image from periplanomeno.