There are about seven billion people living on this planet. Less than half of them have internet access. The majority do not have it. It seems to be clear that those people and nations that have internet access will become richer. And those that do not have access to the internet will become poorer. They already talk about the new poverty caused by the lack of digitalization.
Something similar is true for children. If children learn to handle the internet early, they will usually have better chances in their lives than if they are kept away from it.
In our country, children under the age of sixteen will need the formal consent of their parents if, for instance, they want to be part of social media. Among social media are: FB, Twitter, Instagram, MeetUp, LinkedIn and many other often very useful systems that change the world.
If I activate a usercode in Wikipedia, I will be member of a large social media system. Even in Wikipedia, there is a huge danger that it will swallow me whole. And there is a lot of mobbing going on, too – I can really tell stories from personal experience.
Now let me ask the lawyers and all those wise legislators:
Will a thirteen-year-old genius who won “Jugend Forscht” need his father’s written consent in order to become a Wikipedia member?
And here is a question for you all:
Will a Mormon father (small religion with perhaps 20 million people) or an Islamic father (huge religion with about 2 billion believers, slightly behind Christendom but with a better trend) give his child said consent?
I am not sure. The mother will not be allowed to do it.
But let me switch from general considerations to my personal experiences and mental experiments.
As some of you know, we have seven children. I am sure that nothing in life taught me as many positive and important things as my children did. That includes my parents in the same way as my mentors and teachers, perhaps even Barbara. From whom I also learned a lot. As opposed to school, which you can forget about.
That was true for life in general and especially for digital life. And this is true regardless of me having been the IT professional (and pioneer) in our family who actually created some of it.
Today, if a grandchild of mine wishes to participate in facebook or twitter, then I will support him or her. I would give advice and ask if he/she likes it if I follow. And I would learn the new things he/she would bring me. The only way I would be worried would be if he/she chose a “private modus”. That would actually make me doubt if he/she has been socialized properly.
So here is a mental experiment: What would I do if he/she were to experiment in the “darknet”? Note: the darknet is an attempt at moving through the internet in absolute anonymity through wearing a mask. You hide your authenticity (what you really are) in order to move under an identity that cannot be tracked back!
Argh! That is exactly what the tax agency wanted to abolish, which is why Swiss numbered accounts were made illegal.…
For technological IT reasons, this goal is just as impossible to reach as absolute data security – even if it is supported with very archaic methods, it can basically not be guaranteed. If this were not so, the success of the cyberspace armies in the darknet would not be possible. All you need to know is how it has been programmed. And you need to be good and industrious. Perhaps a little more proficient than the enemy. But there are always ways.
My grandchild – if he/she has learned a little more in the internet – will soon contradict me and point towards blockchain technologies and bitcoin.
After all, in these scenarios, it is guaranteed (even at a high price) that, as soon as you choose your identity, you have a guaranteed part of a percentage of a totally virtual (and limited) number without having had to give your authenticity. Or rather: back-tracking is made impossible (which, incidentally, is only true for the one who actively and successfully does the “mining“).
A normal buyer will definitely have to identify himself or herself, again and again (at least until his/her bitcoins have become worthless).
So if my grandchild were to start moving in the darknet or trying bitcoin , I would probably get a little worried, but I would not ask them to terminate their experiments. In the case of the darknet, I would recommend the highest degree of caution, in the case of bitcoin, I would fear that they will probably go crazy. After all, I personally know quite a few people who believed in it and some of them ended really tragically (or, in the best case, they only went crazy).
Well, basically, I can also well imagine that children under sixteen might, strictly under the law, be allowed to generate some part of a bitcoin – even without the consent of their biological parents. After all, all they would have to do is find a clever way of joining a few asic systems – don’t young people enjoy to experiment a little?
And if they successfully generate bitcoins, then they have them. Regardless of the fact that they do not actually own them. It is more like “possession they achieved through computer capacity and algorithms” – which, strangely enough, is a very small part of a virtual and limited range of numbers. Numbers some analysts believe in and some gamblers are prepared to pay money for. Just as it was a long time ago with tulips in Holland.
Because, as far as I know, the exciting question if bitcoin is virtual possession or virtual ownership has not yet been answered. At least the tulip bulbs were real – allegedly, you could even eat them when they no longer had any value.
Now this was heavy material. I know that even many of those who regularly talk and write about bitcoin and blockchain will not understand it. So, please, excuse my digression.
There are so many exciting – and also simpler – things happening in the internet that I could write about, and whenever there is an opportunity, I will probably do so. And over-emphasized topics such as “mobbing in facebook“ are certainly not the most important issues, even if some grown-ups like watching their occasional porno (which, of course, they will deny). Neither are Parship, Elite-Partner or Tinder the real problem. There are many far more exciting things happening – in many dimensions.
But now our children have to ask dad and mom if they want to test a new social media platform on the internet. Mind you, there are so many more important things the parents need to do, such as earning money and washing their first and second cars.
But currently, I am in Greek and the sun is shining – and, to me, those are more important things! So long.
(Translated by EG)