I came across this blog today from Mortlemania. Such an interesting read. The title of the post is, “If you want smart kids, show them your smartphone.”
As many of the blog postings on this site refer back to iPhone applications and other mobile technologies, consider a dad’s perspective on teaching his trying-to-avoid-bedtime daughter about mosquitos from his iPhone. Dad is proud of teaching his daughter how a mosquito sucks your blood as well as the difference between Google, You Tube, and Wikipedia (not to mention their corresponding icons).
Dad says in response to those against the advancements of digital technology in kids’ lives,
With appropriate parental guidance, the web in your pocket is your kids’ gateway to all of the world’s knowledge, achievement, creativity, aspiration and inspiration.
As long as we steer children in a way that stimulates both their curiosity and confidence – today’s technology can help bring about a future where human beings are not only better informed, but better equipped to meet the huge social and environmental challenges facing the planet.
How’s that for a bedtime story?
I’ll admit, I’m a little bit addicted to Fred. I just went back to check his most recent YouTube post when I noticed something unusual.
During this newest posting, Fred sings along to a song. Then at the end of the nearly 3 minute post, a screen comes on with the following information:
By Jennette Mccurdy
Available on iTunes
Remember I mentioned Fred was making big bucks promoting movies and wireless devices? Well add musical talent to that list. Not to mention, Jennette Mccurdy is an actress on iCarly, a TV series “Fred” appearance on earlier this year. And, while TV shows like The Hills and Gossip Girl have been “discovering” new artists already, I’d bet Jennette Mccurdy (as a singer) blows up fast that a beta fish looking at a mirror, thanks to her pal Fred.
I was struck last night by a commercial. From SeaWorld.
A bunch of kids are talking over the images of Shamu diving in and out of the water. The kids say –
I believe there are still mysteries in the world. And wonders. And surprises.
I believe that fun is a renewable resource.
That some things you’ll never be able to download.
I believe that when you celebrate life, and creatures big and small, you discover connections
That stay with us… forever.
[Adult voice] Discover a place where worlds connect. SeaWorld.
Though I particularly love animals of the sea, it wasn’t Shamu that had me Googling “Sea World commercial” today, it was the juxtaposition of the real world, the digital world and SeaWorld. From the very first line, I believe there are still mysteries in the world. And wonders. And surprises. kids today are a lot smarter and savvier than before – what does surprise them anymore? With the wealth of information at their fingertips, words like hydroelectricity and solar thermal power don’t seem like rocket science. And still at SeaWorld, Fun is a renewable resource.
Life at SeaWorld is more cherished than your Google Mail attachments… That some things you’ll never be able to download. And while you may make friend after friend on Facebook, at SeaWorld You discover connections that stay with us forever.
On one hand, the kids in the commercial sound a lot more grown up than they look. But on the other hand, isn’t that the irony? Where can kids go back to just being kids? Where can parents connect the whole family? Bring your digital cameras, I hear Shamu puts on quite a show.
This week I was introduced to Fred.
If you haven’t seen or heard about Fred Figglehorn, hold onto your squirrels. In real life he’s 15 year-old Lucas Cruishank from Nebraska, but on You Tube he’s a six year-old Kindergarten from a dysfunctional family, with “anger management” problems and a voice that sounds like he inhaled too much helium. As writer, producer, director, and uploader, Lucas Cruishank has taken the “Broadcast Yourself” tag line to new heights.
Fred launched his own You Tube Channel in April 2008, and today is the most subscribed and most viewed channel on You Tube. He has over 800,000 subscribers and over 29 million channel views. A typical Fred video gets 3-6 million plays. Wow! Again, he’s 15 years old.
From licensed “Fred” product (Cruishank has signed licensing agency, GR Branding, to manage) and an episode of Nickelodeon’s iCarly (iMeet Fred), to appearances on Disney Channel’s The Suite Life on Deck and The Tyra Banks Show, to hired promotion of Walden Media’s film City of Embers and placement sponsorship from wireless device company Zipit, Cruishank is generating six figures ($$$,$$$) . A kid with a video camera has created a mini media empire.
There are no barriers to creating content anymore, and there is certainly no creator too young. The media world is a new frontier. Like the famous quote from Field of Dreams, “if you build it they will come”. And if its anything like Fred, its not only fans flocking, but the mainstream media as well.
On my favorite daytime soap General Hospital, Damian Spinelli is a young-adult computer whiz who most recently was arrested by the FBI for hacking into government databases. While Spinelli may seem like a prodigy to us digital immigrants, he is an aspirational figure for throngs of computer savvy teens.
BBC News reported that “increasing numbers of teenagers are starting to dabble in hi-tech crime.” I guess we can be thankful they’re not doing drugs… but these unsophisticated teen hackers may still land themselves in the slammer. Their self-coded, unrefined viruses have even been known to attack their own computers, says the article.
Yet, while it is enough for some hackers to privately wreak havoc on unsuspecting computer users, these hacker teens are broadcasting their accomplishments online through sites like YouTube. According to the article, the teens “sign on with the same alias used to hack a site, run a phishing attack or write a web exploit.” Reformed teen hacker, Matthew Bevan, says, “The aim of what they are doing is to get the fame within their peer group”.
Whoa. Gone are the days when the only bullies were muscle clad high-school athletes. Now, any teen with a working knowledge of computer programming can log-on, hack, phish or write, and not only bully strangers, but potentially steal credit card numbers and more. Makes being shoved into a locker look pretty awesome. And fame within their peer group? Are we dealing with the online version of Mean Girls?
Lindsay Lohan‘s character, Cady, says:
Calling somebody else fat won’t make you any skinnier. Calling someone stupid doesn’t make you any smarter. And ruining Regina George’s life definitely didn’t make me any happier. All you can do in life is try to solve the problem in front of you.
What problem do teenage hackers have that they’re engaging in this destructive, dangerous behavior? Are these kids not stimulated in school and need to flex their creative genius online? Is this typical adolescent angst coupled with modern day technology? Or are these teen hackers without self-esteem and just phishing for complements?