A Local Educator Hopes to Bridge Generational Gap

Reported by: Marisa Yamane
Email: myamane@khon2.com
5/19/2009: KHON2

Teenagers have created their own online slang, unbeknownst to many parents.

A local educator is hoping to bridge the generational gap.

From texting on their cell phones to creating pod casts, and virtual autobiographies, teenagers have truly turned cyberspace into their space.

By letting their fingers do the talking.

It’s a world foreign to many parents.

“They don’t get why we like to do that if we can just go and meet our friends,” said 8th grader, Andriy Pishchalenko.

Kids even have their own online lingo.

For example, L-O-L means “Laughing out loud.”

J-K means “Just kidding.”

P-O-S means “Parent over the shoulder.”

And P-A-W means “Parents are watching.”

Dr. Truc Nguyen is hoping to bridge the generational gap.

She’s a teacher at the University Lab School. She’s also an Assistant Specialist at the University of Hawaii College of Education. “The research we’re working on is really to take a look at what the kids consider to be their own behaviors online because there’s a difference between what adults say the kids do and what the kids say actually no we do this instead.”

She’s already learned a lot from her 8th grade students, but she hopes to learn much more by surveying other students in Hawaii as well as on the mainland. “We’re targeting middle school in particular cuz that’s where cyber bullying and peer pressure really come into play,” Nguyen said.

The results would eventually be shared with public schools across the state. “So the goal is to help parents and teachers but the big research project we’re doing is to help law enforcement.”

In an effort to help stop online crimes against kids.

Cyberspace is a world where you can create a fictitious identity. So any of these profiles could be fake.

“I was in a chat room, and this person started talk to me and I started asking her questions like where she was from and what was her name, and she says she lives in washington and her name is Stacy,” said 8th grader, Allena Vestal.

While these teens are aware of some of the online dangers, they still have a false sense of security, as do many adults.

“I think what shocks me the most is how willing they are to send pictures of themselves doing things. and not realizing how that’s going to affect them in the future,” says Nguyen.

Technology is advancing at such a rapid pace.

Nguyen hopes the results of her research will help teachers and parents better understand their tech-savvy kids.