The Children of the Internet will introduce change into our society in ways we cannot easily predict because they are bypassing traditional sources of information.
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".
Some of the recent extreme fashion trends coming out of Japan may be a harbinger of things to come. Fashion may be a leading indicator of change because it is so visible. I think the real changes will be those that we cannot readily see because they represent new ways of thinking and dealing with people.
I hesitate to predict anything more specific other than this: those who cannot embrace change will go down fighting as they are rendered irrelevant. 🙂