Trend afoot: Cloud socializing

We all know that kids socialize and share media on computers, phones, Xbox Live, etc. They don't think much about the delivery device. Pretty soon neither will we. The New York Times reports on "pocketable" and "cloud" computing, pointing among other things to Adobe's new AIR software that will help "merge the Internet and the PC, as well as blur the distinctions between PCs and new computing devices like smartphones…. But," it adds, "most people may never know AIR is there. Applications [sub in "socializing"] will look and run the same whether the user is at his desk or his portable computer, and soon when using a mobile device or at an Internet kiosk." I'm subbing in "socializing" because that's how mobile everything teens do online will be. They already make nearly no distinction between devices or online and offline. We're all just going the way of the online teen. The mobile Internet has only begun. Now think about filtering or monitoring software in this context. It can be useful, but how much control does it reliably give parents when online socializing is wherever the Internet is, wherever kids are? I'm not trying to discourage, just offer a reality check. Increasingly, the only safeguard as mobile as online teens, is the software between their ears. But loving, engaged parenting can be very flexible and spontaneous too and (most important for teens – though they'd be reluctant to admit it), parenting is there running in the background when it's most needed.

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