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Are we failing our teens?


   Teens Over the last week, I'm seriously beginning to wonder whether parents, teachers and lawmakers are failing our teens.

    First, as a judge of the prestigious Silver Knight awards given to high school students, I interacted with about two dozen high school students. These were sharp kids who are using technology to change their schools, community and even help with international problems. I asked every one of them how they learned the skills to build websites, animated computer programs, even create programs for the I-phone. Their answer consistently was "I taught myself."   It doesn't take a genius to figure out these kids have  time, patience and confidence to teach themselves skills their teachers don't know and aren't making enough effort to learn. Are teachers failing teens?

    Then, I saw a spot on the Today Show this morning about sexting -- the new craze that has teens sending naked or revealing photos of themselves to each other on their cell phones. One teen is doing probation and had to register as a sex offender for sexting, another is in jail on child porn charges after forwarding nude photos of his ex-girlfriend to 70 other teens.  Larry Walters, an Internet attorney, says teens don't see what they are doing as child pornography.  He agrees we need to convince teens not to sext, but says our laws aren't keeping up with how teens are using technology. We are punishing kids with laws intended for adults using technology to molest children. Are lawmakers failing teens?

    I must admit I am constantly trying to look over my preteens' shoulders to see who they are texting and who is texting them. Still, I can't keep up with them and in some ways, I've given up trying. I have all kinds of excuses, including lack of time. My kids know they are more tech-savvy than I. We all know teens are getting into all kinds of trouble on the Internet. Should I be doing more to make sure I know more about how to use technology than them?

     What do you think parents, are we failing our teens?