With great power comes great responsibility. - Spiderman's Uncle Ben
Were you as a parent able to give your child a "super" power, would you do so? Let's take the ability to teleport - move from one location to another by just imagining the destination - for example. There would be personal advantages - ability to see the world at no cost; time spent on getting to school could be better spent in other ways; and surely there would be vocations (courier, spy, journalist, salesperson, artist, etc.) that would be enhanced by such a power.
Of course, as we know from countless movies about those with such abilities, the temptation to use this power for unethical purposes would be great. Think into a bank, grab a pile of cash, and think back out. Why work at all? Such a gift might also be dangerous were your child to teleport into a wall or the vacuum of outer space. For many parents, the dark side of such a gift would outweigh the benefits, with the parent perhaps projecting their own ethical weakness on to their child.
While teleportation, telekinesis, invisibility, x-ray vision, flight, great strength, and indestructibility are the stuff of Marvel comic book characters, parents do have a similar choice to make of a seeming superpower right now.
Isn't giving a child instant, continuous access to information by providing her with a smartphone, tablet, or laptop with wireless connectivity providing a power that only a few years ago was unimaginable? Instantly finding a seemingly inexhaustible source of information - from trusted and questionable sources, from trusted and questionable "experts, or from trusted and questionable friends. Doesn't such a device give children an inexhaustible source of entertainment and mindless distraction? Doesn't such a device give children the power to communicate to the world without censorship, filters, or retraction? Doesn't such a device give kids the ability to connect with complete strangers - some trustworthy and some questionable? Doesn't such a device even give users the ability to potentially view the activities of others without their knowledge - and have their activities view surreptitiously as well?
Yes, we can deny access to these devices to kids, but it's getting harder to do. And given the positive tasks that they help kids accomplish, should we?
Here is are questions I have for parents (and educators): if your child had a superpower like teleportation, at what age would you start teaching him how to use this power ethically, safely, and productively? Would you rely on the school alone to teach these skills? Would you deny your child this ability, knowing that age 18, she was free to use it as an adult?