“Most of us recognize that our children are moving into a miraculous new era. They will, like everyone else, take risks and face dangers. They will also reap great rewards” (Katz, 1996). 

The terms ‘Net Generation’ and ‘Digital Natives’ are often used to describe the current generation of adolescents who have grown up immersed in technology, and who study, work and interact in fundamentally different ways than earlier generations of adolescents (Palfrey & Gasser, 2008; Tapscott, 1998). Compared to previous generations who generally view electronic technology as a practical tool, young Australians increasingly see it as an essential part of their daily life, in particular in their social interaction with peers. 

It is a common belief that young people who have grown up with the Internet have an almost intuitive knowledge of technology, and that their familiarity with technology corresponds with their effective and efficient use of technology. However, while this generation may have more confidence in using technology and use this technology on a daily basis, they are not necessarily skilled in using social media in safe and positive ways. 

Research suggests promoting students’ responsible use of technology rather than merely restricting their access may help to reduce their experiences of online harms. Furthermore, the fundamental role of social media in young people’s lives currently as well as the role this is likely to play in the future, clearly demonstrates the importance of educating students about its uses, so that these benefits can be fully realised, and the harms associated with misuse of technology can be minimised. 

To support you in your role as an educator, this section of the Cyber Savvy website provides information to assist you in your role as an educator in guiding young people to navigate the online environment.