Internet porn is no kind of education, but LOLcats and Tumblr (almost) make up for it

Our internet-raised teenagers may grow up to be sexually perverted loners with no capacity for real intimacy, but at least they'll know the value of small pleasures

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Another reminder of how powerless grown-ups feel to prevent their children from stumbling into the grimy corners of the internet: in a survey for the National Association of Head Teachers, just over half of parents (51 per cent) said schools should teach children how to deal with internet pornography in secondary school, but a significant minority (42 per cent) felt that would be too late. Meanwhile NAHT also reports that parents are undermining teachers’ efforts to keep children innocent by signing them up for Facebook before they turn 13.

Technophobia, prudishness and confusion over the role of the state are combining to allow crazy Uncle Internet a much more significant role in child-rearing than would seem wise. What kind of people will he raise? Sexually perverted loners with short attention spans and no capacity for real intimacy? Almost certainly. But perhaps they won’t be all bad.

Around the same time that NAHT delegates were sounding the alarm, Tumblr’s youthful CEO David Karp (dresses like a 12-year-old, is actually 26) was selling his blogging site to Yahoo! for a rumoured $1.1bn. Tumblr is a reminder of some of the lovelier things young people might do online – and I don’t just mean amassing enough dot.com dollars to buy their parents a nice house in the Caribbean. The site has become, among other things, a cockle-warming treasure trove of cultural miscellany, created by enthusiastic individuals for the sheer love of their subject. Popular Tumblrs include "Awesome People Hanging Out Together" (where you can find a genuine photograph of Weird Al Yankovic drinking orange squash with Run DMC),"Things Organised Neatly" (slices of toast arranged in order of burntness) and “Kim Jong-il Looking At Things” (no explanation necessary). Our internet-raised children may be emotionally dysfunctional, but they will know the value of small pleasures.

They will also be less self-involved. Granted, this is difficult to conceive of amid the pouting selfies of today’s internet culture, but imagine you’re a member of the generation who first appeared on Facebook as an ultrasound scan, whose every adolescent humiliation is Googleable. They will instinctively know the secret of inner peace; that it’s impossible to control how others see you, so why bother trying?

Perhaps, by extension, they’ll also be more tolerant of the past mistakes of public figures. When there’s no longer any sport in digging dirt it makes sense to just choose the best candidate, not the one with the best PR team. And last, but not least, endless cutesy pictures can’t help but raise a generation that’s kinder to all animals (but mostly LOLcats, obviously).

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