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The Liberating Power of the Internet

Kristy Callaway

The internet gives today’s teenagers the kind of freedom that driving a car gave teens in previous generations. But unlike learning to drive a car, kids today can teach themselves to navigate the internet. Growing up in Key West in the 70′s and 80′s, I didn’t have a car or the internet. However, I quickly understood the power of networking.

The ability to seek and find people, places, and things can have as much if not more impact than mobility from automobiles. And, just as with cars, good and bad comes with the “license.” Think of the good the internet can do for the police assisting 911 callers, a parent keeping up with a teenager, or a principal searching for a truant student. Or consider the bad aspects of a crazed ex-girlfriend stalking an unknowing ex-boyfriend, or a child molester waiting for parents to leave their children unattended.

Parallel parking seems simple, but takes years to perfect, however, the gaming industry exponentially produces high concept high skill activities for your entire body that completely engage, absorb, and hypnotize players. Traveling at 80 mph in a car or online is exhilarating, scary and fast!

Recently, I met a 14-year-old entrepreneur who customizes Xbox controllers for hardcore players. He was taking a film and production graduate course alongside me to learn how to improve his editing skills in his own gaming efforts and to speed his score acceleration. He sought out this skill set; he didn’t wait for school to teach him.

The iPad2 enables youth with undeveloped dexterity to explore anything from Angry Birds and Disney starlets to funny pet videos. My friend’s children, six and nine years old, showed me how to use many features on my own iPad2, which is the first one they have touched. The iPhone allows people to run their entire lives — from banking to driving directions, giving face time or Googleing facts to win an argument. The critical success factor, no matter the gadget, is interactivity.

Sweat Monkey, a website for those 13 years and up, is a social networking tool that matches students to volunteer and paid work opportunities. Sweat Monkey has been designed to offer students and their schools an easy-to-use, state-of-the-art service learning platform. It is a friendly and low-risk way for students to explore new interests, develop new skills, get into college, and maybe even find a job that earns a good paycheck. Arts students don’t  need road maps and GPS; they have social media and networking.

Talking about finding one’s way, Arts Schools Network has launched a new program called On Your Way. Created in partnership with ArtsApp, the On Your Way student recognition program helps students on their way to success by enhancing their portfolios and auditioning skills as it promotes migrating portfolios to a standard, online digital format for auditions, admissions, and competitions.

Additionally, this platform gives students the power to allow their peers, mentors, teachers, and potential colleges and employers, the ability to view their work, make comments or suggestions; back seat drivers with good intentions.

Cars are liberating, but students today are speeding forward full throttle into places our cars have never been. Be safe in your travels!

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