I wrote this three years ago and I think it is worth revisiting in view of efforts being made by totalitarian regimes to control internet access. I think it will backfire and will actually accelerate the meltdown of any regime that seeks to do this.
Children of the Internet will introduce change into our society in ways
we cannot easily predict because they are bypassing traditional sources
A culture controls change if it can restrict the flow of
information. As long as a child only learns skills, attitudes, and
fears from its extended family, that child is protected from the
corrupting (and civilizing) effect of "outside ideas".
The child of such a culture can be raised to regard all outside the
group as inferior or as enemies to be slain or subjugated. By the time
the child is old enough to see that these "inferiors" have superior
technology and lifestyles, it can be so warped that its only recourse
is to destroy that which it cannot emulate.
The internet, with its overwhelming abundance of information,
incredible beauty, and skillfully delivered lies, presents a challenge
to any culture, even an advanced and open-minded one. The internet,
even in its present limited form, presents the ultimate threat to
closed cultures. The open flow of information exposes many lies that
these cultures use to keep their citizens under control.
In the past, children would not be immersed in cultures outside
their immediate environment until they were at least 12 years old.
Today, five-year-olds are finding out that Mom, Dad and other authority
figures really do not know what they are talking about. This places
greater importance than ever on telling your children the truth.
When women of a closed and degraded culture see that intelligent,
strong women of other cultures can excel in business and in war, it
stirs up the kind of ideas that despots really hate!
When races deemed inferior by some, can see that others of their race are worshipped as
popular heroes, it tends to break down the mindset that caste systems
rely on to survive.
Children given free access to the Internet may not easily unlearn
lessons of hatred and bigotry, but they will quickly spot when the
"truths" they have been taught bear little relationship to reality.
This is true whether they live on the eastern seaboard of the US, in
the heart of Los Angeles, or on the outskirts of Baghdad.
I feel that access to unlimited information will eventually result
in children selecting the best parts of many cultures and synthesizing
their own, to the shock and horror of those who insist on acting as
"guardians of culture".
Free access to information results in change. Denying access to
information only creates interest in what is being hidden. Intelligent
and honest communication can guide children and other seekers of information to use information wisely.
I hesitate to predict anything more specific other than this: Those
who cannot embrace change will go down fighting as they are rendered