The digital disconnect

What’s that, you’ve never heard of the digital disconnect? The digital disconnect is the gulf in communication between those raised in an online, constantly-connected environment and those who came before them.


  • It’s kids versus parents.
  • It’s digital natives versus outsiders.
  • It’s young versus old.
  • It’s virtual reality versus playing outside.
  • It’s social media versus ‘in person.’
  • It’s 123456789 versus t*r5^lkUN/{-Ed.
  • It’s smart phones versus flip phones.
  • It’s androids versus humans. (Oops, that just sort of slipped out! )

It’s the perception that the older generations’ learned and – therefore, sometimes hesitant – approach to new technology and the resulting new social attitudes is not compatible with the younger generations’ seemingly innate skill and fluency in everything online.

It’s entirely natural. At any time in history, the younger generation is always the vanguard of what’s fashionable, and consumer technology (think smart phones and social media) is nothing if not fashionable.

It’s the current generation gap.

The 1950’s had Elvis Presley and his hips and James Dean’s rebel. The aughties (2000 – 2009) and twenty-tens (what do we call this decade?) have produced children addicted to their devices.

Understanding the Digital Disconnect – Parents, Teens and the Internet (#ChatSTC Twitter Chat)

In many ways, it’s a gaping void of our own creation. How many times have you seen parents slip their iPhone to their screaming child when standing in a checkout aisle in the supermarket? (When was the last time you did this?) Not too long ago, embarrassed parents of screaming children would buy one of the many candy bars conveniently on display at the checkout for precisely that reason.

We’ve all seen it – parents frequently use their smartphones as digital nannies to quiet the youngest of children whenever it’s absolutely necessary convenient. And the children respond positively to the stimulus of the shiny device with bright moving pictures. And before you know it, that’s the only thing that will quiet junior.

And when junior – being a quick learner, as all children are – masters the device, the parents suddenly notice that maybe he or she is doing more than just watching approved videos. And then the parents discover that junior is an iPhone power user – while they are several layers below him in the skill rankings. It’s now when the reality of the digital disconnect hits home.

Join us on Twitter August 18, as we join an all-star cast of security experts to discuss the digital disconnect and how you can shrink the in your own family to everyone’s mutual satisfaction – even the teenagers’ in your home.


As always, the folks at StaySafeOnline and StopThinkConnect organized a great event. In case you missed it, here are some of the highlights of the fast-paced discussion about bridging the digital disconnect between digital kids and their less-than-digital parents.


Q1: What is this disconnect? What are some differences between how kids connect to the world around them & how parents did/do?


Many of the most popular #apps & services teens use involve visual components like video chat, photos & live streaming. Q3: How can parents help their teens enjoy these #apps but in a safe, responsible way?


Q4: What are the #privacy implications of not using these new platforms safely & securely? What should kids consider when using video-, photo- and live-streaming-driven apps?



Q5: How can parents teach their kids about #account & #device #security? What resources can they use?


Q6: What can parents do beyond implementing #tech rules to help their kids be #safe #online?



Q9: How can parents help their kids be prepared to handle their friends coming to them for help with #online issues?


Q10: How can parents establish safe, trusting, non-blaming environments so their teens feel comfortable discussing #online issues?


Although they may disagree on a lot, parents & teens both care about avoiding #IDtheft, protecting devices & accounts & avoiding scams. Q11: How can this be an opportunity for kids & parents to learn about #onlinesafety together? Where can they go for help?



You can also check out the entire Twitter #ChatSTC at Stop.Think.Connect.


Sticky Password recommends using a password manager and activating multi-factor authentication (two-factor authentication) where available for the sites and applications you use.