As embarrassing as it is, my childhood consisted of long, gluttonous spans of computer usage that were interrupted solely when I was forced to attend practices for sports or other extracurricular that I previously signed up for. I was introduced to computers in the third grade when my principle implemented the two-hour media-labs section into our weekly schedule. From what I remember, the section initially focused on providing alternate avenues for learning in the form of games such as WordShark, as well as the infamous website called Funbrain.com, which featured over three hundred interactive math games. However, the media lab section soon became a competitive arena. We would scurry in and rush to complete our typing test and math games, so that we would then be granted the freedom of using the computers to do as we pleased. In particular, we all fancied a role-playing game known as Freddy Fish that featured a protagonist who spent the majority of his time solving problems for his neighbors and friends in the ocean.
Before long, there were two computers in my home. My parents had a sleek, black Dell for work and the other was a less impressive rendition of a dell which was to be shared amongst my siblings. With the acquisition of these computers came a clear decrease in our attempts to spend time outside with friends. We quickly made the transition to online games that could be played between friends from their respective homes. Yahoo Graffiti, a multiplayer game similar to Pictionary, served as an influential game in my youth. My friends and I would meet up at the end of lunch to set times for our matches later that evening. We took these meet ups seriously, and if the computer ended up being out of commission, either because one of my siblings needed it or the phone line was needed (ugh dial-up), it seemed like the world could’ve come to an end at any second.
In the sixth grade, the Internet made a jump from pure entertainment to interactions through social media. It seemed like all of my friends were creating profiles on MySpace, so I felt like I had to do the same. However, my mother, skeptical of privacy settings, vehemently argued against it. For this reason, I joined MySpace three (agonizingly long) months after the rest of my peers. I was instantly absorbed in the new stretched of freedom that the website granted. I could customize everything on my page and I had control over a section that allowed one to rank their top eight friends. As one might assume, the top eight section on the site was problematic and ended up causing more drama for most friend groups than it intended. Facebook was introduced during my freshman year of high school, and it quickly became a demanding aspect of our generation’s social interaction. From flirtatious pokes to comical wallposts, this website enhanced social interactions via the web whilst severely crippling face-to-face communications. Aside from the sporadic attempts to “quit” Facebook, it has remained essential to our generation’s lives. Instagram and Twitter have also amassed an impressive following. It is rare to encounter a person who has demonstrated enough restraint that all forms of social media have been avoided.
At this point, it seems like I’ve had access to computers and the Internet for the entirety of my life. There is a certain level of comfort that I, as well as members of my generation, have become accustomed to that can only be credited to the pervasive nature of technology today. Pressing questions are answered in seconds, faces are instantly matched to foreign names, and thoughts are broadcasted globally within seconds due to our obsession with the Internet. The posts on our walls, the photos on our Instagram, and the snapchat stories that we put up are all footprints of our decisions and ideologies throughout the entirety of our youth. For this reason, I have become more skeptical of privacy settings with age, but that is not the case for all users. We are the first generation that will witness the drawbacks of loosely keying in on privacy settings. Our lives are documented in ways that our parents and their parents could never understand, which is explored in this easy to read article for children. For most, it is too late to undo what has already been done, but with that being said, we might find ourselves in a society that places less importance on an individuals past than we have seen in years prior to our tech savvy generation.