Risk, Media, and Parenting in a
THIRTEEN-YEAR-OLD RENÉE VENuzzo COULDN’T wait to tell me what had happened earlier that day. As she got in my car for the short trip to my house for her babysitting job, she told me: “Me and Tessie were at the mall and some guy took our picture. And he had a laptop and everything.” The words came in a rush, including something about the police and harassment.
“Wait. What?” I asked, trying to make sense of what she was telling me.
Renee told me that she and her friend had been walking around the mall on Friday afternoon when “some guy” took a photo of them, then quickly left. Renee didn’t know what to do, so she called her mom at work and Tessie called hers. After asking if the girls wanted to leave the mall (neither girl did), the mothers told the girls that they should find mall security and tell them that an unknown man had taken their picture. The girls did so and continued shopping, but then they saw the man sitting in the food court. Renee and her friend alerted mall security again. The security officers brought him in for questioning and then asked the girls to come in and give a statement so that the man could be arrested for harassment. It turned out they weren’t the only girls he’d taken pictures of that day. “It was weird, because he looked like such a normal, fortysomething guy,” Renee said. Normal, except that he was carrying around a camera and a laptop in a mall on a Friday afternoon, taking photos of thirteen-year-old girls.
What is happening to young people like Renee and Tessie as they live in the electronic world? How are today’s digital and mobile media affecting their experiences in and views of the world? And what are parents doing to help their children prepare to live as happy, independent, productive, and caring human beings in the digital age? These are the questions that form the core of this book.