The Internet: A World Without Boundaries

There was a time when we lived in a world without borders. In an age before the United Nations, free trade zones or countries. In those dark ages way back when, people lived in villages and often nomadic tribes. There was no clear borders and for mostly people moved freely.

World Without BoundariesToday you may think we live in a world with clear borders; you may think when border police capture illegal immigrants and take them to task for coming into “our” country is the right thing. But it doesn’t matter because the Internet makes all borders, all countries meaningless.

By extension the Internet through smartphones removes personal boundaries. At this stage in the technology revolution you have an unprecedented increase in wireless communication. At any given time there are thousands if not millions of signals passing through your room whether you want to allow them or not.

This is not so much about privacy as it is about safeguarding your personal space – between you and other – your individuality. When I studied body language with my salsa teacher, it became clear to me that how we control our personal space, forms our identity. Of course there are cultures where you do not care about this, and others who are obsessed about it. They are extremes.

Enter the post-Bluetooth world of Smartphones, the always-on generation. You live in a world without boundaries because you can have whatever you want, whenever you want. You may not always discern the consequences of this freedom.

Freedom to do whatever you want leads to experimentation. Children do this from a young ages when they try to find the limits of the world as they know it. They put things into their mouths, hit objects against the floor or table, and play with unlimited curiosity.

So in a recent news article about a teacher who was sexting with students in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, I posted this comment, “Where there are no boundaries, there are no limits. Remember this parents!

After 10 years of research I found most parents do not set boundaries on how they children use social media or smartphones. They may not do this for various reasons like not understanding the technology, or being preoccupied with their own escape into cyberspace.

It all starts with boundaries. Parents who set clear boundaries help to make the world a better place. Fathers usually reinforce boundaries, both emotionally and physically. Dr Warren Farrell first got my attention in his book “Father and Child Reunion” on this matter of boundaries in children.

A world without boundaries is not the panacea of the 21st century. It may turn out to be your Achilles’ heal. Limits are not constraints in the sense of preventing you from doing what you want. Instead it helps your children develop step by step. It also helps you to learn how to say “no!” when it’s required.


Some tips to avoid problems on social networks

Here’s some tips for children:

  1. Never give out your full name or physical address. The less information about you on social networks the better.
  2. Ensure that you use the maximum amount of privacy and only invite/accept friends that you actually know in the real world.
  3. When someone posts a nasty comment on your social networking profile, delete it and remove/block them so they cannot do it again.
  4. When someone talks to you about sexually explicit topics, stop talking and block them.
  5. Tell your parents about anything unusual so they can help you deal with it.

Here’s some tips for parents:

  1. Sit with your child and ask them to show you around the social networks they use.
  2. Talk to your child about posting to many photos on the social networking sites because this puts them at greater risk from predators.
  3. Encourage your children to talk openly about anyone who is stalking or harassing them online so you can help them through it.
  4. Place limits on the amount of time you child spend on the Internet e.g. between 8am-8pm during the week or limited airtime on cellphones.
  5. Use technology as a source of conversation over the dinner table to show your children you are interested in their world.
  6. Don’t let technology be a substitute for parenting or experience. Spend time with your children doing other activities so they can learn how to do them and in the process bond with you.
  7. Do your best to avoid violent computer games for your children because this conditions them to become desensitised to the same acts in the real world.

Ramon Thomas is a available for a motivational talk on the psychology of technology and social media for parents, teachers and learners.



When Mom or Dad Asks To Be a Facebook 'Friend'

Matt, 17, and Bob Florian both use FacebookMatt, 17, and Bob Florian both use Facebook, and Bob Florian knew that his son might have doubts about becoming his Facebook friend. (By Susan Biddle — The Washington Post)

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When Matt Florian signed onto his Facebook account recently to check the status of his 400-plus friends, he had a friend request.

It was from his dad.

The junior at Sherwood High School in Montgomery County didn’t panic. No. He simply took a deep breath and pondered his options.

He could accept it. He could ignore it. He could accept it, but limit the parts of his Facebook profile his dad could see. He pondered more. What were the social implications of “friending” your folks?

Across the country, Facebook users are contemplating similar questions when they log onto their accounts. More and more moms and dads are signing onto Facebook to keep up with their offspring. Not only are they friending (or attempting to friend) their sons and daughters, they’re friending their sons’ and daughters’ friends.

Some, like Matt, take the requests in stride. He ultimately friended his dad. Others are less sanguine, voicing their dismay via online groups that decry parental intrusion and offer tips on how to screen out mom and dad. (“Just go onto their computers and delete their accounts.” “Just don’t add them as a friend or any1 that is a co-worker with ur parents duh.”) Even parenting experts are getting involved, offering their own tips on proper Facebook etiquette.

“I do not know if this has happened to anybody, but this morning I log on to Facebook and I have a new friend request!” wrote 19-year-old Mike Yeamans, a sophomore at James Madison University, on one of several “No Parents on Facebook” groups that have popped up on the site. “I am excited to make a new friend so I click on the link. I could not believe what I saw. My father! This is an outrage!”

When Facebook was launched by Mark Zuckerberg in 2004, it was designed as a way for college students to connect with each other. Users created a personal page and were able to accept or send out electronic “friend” requests for people to be included in their networks. People who were “friends” were able to keep tabs on people in their network, send messages and even connect with friends of friends. It was like an exclusive private club, since it was open only to those with certain e-mail addresses.

But as Facebook’s popularity soared, its founders sought to expand its audience. In 2005, it allowed high school students to sign on. But it was the 2006 decision to open it up to the general public that drew howls from its original audience — and opened the door for the parental invasion.

In protest, several “abolish parent” groups have sprung up on the site.

Yeamans and a few of his friends started “What Happens in College Stays in College: Keep Parents Off Facebook!” in 2007. They meant it partly as a joke but were stunned when more than 500 people signed on, each with a tale of parental intrusion.

“My mom joined facebook when they first made it public and is mad i won’t approve her friend request!” wrote one indignant student.

read the full story on Washington Post website.


Bill Gates gives high school learners 11 rules to live by

Love him or hate him, he sure hits the nail on the head with this! To anyone with kids of any age, here’s some advice.

Bill Gates recently gave a speech at a High School about 11 things they did not and will not learn in school. He talks about how feel-good, politically correct teachings, created a generation of kids with no concept of reality and how this concept set them up for failure in the real world.

  • Rule 1 : Life is not fair – get used to it!
  • Rule 2 : The world won’t care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.
  • Rule 3 : You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won’t be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.
  • Rule 4 : If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.
  • Rule 5 : Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping: they called it opportunity.
  • Rule 6 : If you mess up, it’s not your parents’ fault, so don’t whine about your mistakes, learn from them.
  • Rule 7 : Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent’s generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.
  • Rule 8 : Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they’ll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.
  • Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don’t get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time.
  • Rule 10 : Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.
  • Rule 11 : Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.

I don’t know if this is true because it was forwarded to me like most of these email chain letters or jokes. Most of these resonate with me so I’m republishing them anyway. And you may also be interested in watching this excellent hour long interview with Bill Gates on the Charlie Rose show on Google Video here:


Parents Guide to MXit available today

The “Parents Guide to MXit” is now available from today. This concise guide is made available at no cost to all concerned parents or educators, who may have sleepless nights about children using MXit, the popular chat application that enables communication on cell phones at the fraction of SMS costs.

Ramon Thomas, online behaviour expert at NETucation produced this guide after a spate of negative publicity and shocking incident, since being interviewed about this topic on Cape Talk/702 in early September 2006.

“This guide explains MXit in plain and simple English for parents and teachers,” says Thomas. “Once you understand MXit it very important to note the impact on your relationship with your child, the possibility and probability of addiction and abuse.”

MXit Lifestyle (Pty) Ltd
, the company who created the MXit application, states the current growth is about 10,000 new users per day. Latest stats indicate 385,000 users between 12-17 and 462,000 users between 18-25. After being released in late 2005, MXit has broken through the 2 million subscriber base in record time. And is the fastest growing cellphone application in South African history. As we approach the festive season when SMS volumes normally spike, MXit usage, and subscribers should continue to increase as rapid pace.

“Parents should realise this phenomenon is unstoppable and education is the key..” says Dr Helgo Schomer, University of Cape Town academic and registered psychologist who runs the Institute of Behavioural Health in Cape Town. He further explains that in virtual environments like MXit, people have no responsibility to adhere to acceptable social etiquette. Rumours can be spread, people can create fake identities, and there is no retribution or consequences to face up to.

The most important aspects covered in the guide is this:
1. How MXit impacts on Relationships
2. Coping with MXit Addiction / Dealing with Abuse
3. Installing MXit on your phone
4. Navigating the “MXit universe”
5. How to report Abuse or Threats

Patrick Hoare, founder of Kids Online, says, “Parents should not take away their children’s cellphones because it may give rise to cellphones being used in secret.” Parents normally teach us not to talk to strangers, yet we do that online. Do not accept invitations to chat privately from strangers on MXit.

Its easy to get your copy of Parents Guide to MXit, just click here to download it right now. And spread the word by pointing people to this website.
Ramon Thomas, is available for public talks at schools, churches or non-profit organisations – please call 082 9407137 for bookings.


Ignorant Parents in South Africa blames MXIT for exposing Youth to Pornography

I was quoted in this article published on MoneyWeb, and posted this comment…

People who are accusing MXIT are likely not even using MXIT. I’ve interviewed Herman Heunis and I’ve also been using it for a few months now. Its a text based system for instant messaging or chatting in semi-real time. And whatever explicit messages are being sent are just words. And its not more or less damaging then what anyone can read in most FHM, Cosmo or late night on eTV! So parents must learn to deal with this new phenomenon by educating themselves and using this platform. How stupid can you be to blame the delivery medium for what is being sent. Lets blame the air we breath for the lame pick lines women experience every day or lets blame lazy parents. All parents should read this article: “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Trust the Teenager” before blaming MXIT.