Actor Ansel Elgort says young people are still figuring out how to enjoy the advantages of new technology without allowing it to take over their lives.
Elgort discussed the topic at a weekend Toronto International Film Festival press conference to promote his movie Men, Women & Children. Writer-director Jason Reitman's latest comedy is about the impact the Internet, smart phones and social media have on the relationships of several adolescents and their parents.
"I don't think kids are ahead of it either because it is so new that there is a big learning curve where everyone has to figure this stuff out," Elgort explained."This has only been around for about five years. I got my first smart phone when I was 15, which was five years ago. I am 20 now. I think in, like, 20 years, everyone will have a better grasp on how technology is changing our lives, but right now it is so crazy how much it has changed things and it's been in such a short period of time. That's why it's so difficult now and there are a lot of problems and photo leaks and hackers and all this crazy stuff going on because people don't know how to protect themselves. People don't know how to handle themselves and parents, obviously, don't know how to handle their kids or raise their kids with this because it is so new."
The actor went on to say he didn't have a smart phone for the beginning of high school or middle school, but it is fairly common for children to start using the devices as early as elementary school now.
"Parents can't monitor what you are doing on Snapchat. Snapchat is now more popular than Facebook or Twitter or Instagram. Everyone's on Snapchat, because no one can get what you're doing there. ... Kids just don't want their parents knowing what they are doing," he said.
"What the hell are you hiding from us?" joked his co-star Adam Sandler, who was sitting alongside him on the panel.
"Technology moves so fast and social media moves so fast because everyone wants the new thing, but also everyone wants to be where their parents are not," Elgort added. "Once the mom got a Facebook and a Twitter and an Instagram, I don't want to be there anymore. I mean, I'm OK with it because I'm 20, but people who are 14, they don't want to be where their mom is, liking their pictures and commenting, 'Oh, honey you look so cute in this picture.' ... That's terrible."
Elgort noted there is an upside to being a celebrity in an era when one can interact directly with his or her fans online.
"You are your main news platform, so no publication has as much power as you do about posting about yourself," Elgort said. "My outreach [to my specific fans] is stronger than any publication's outreach, which is very unique and that way I can control what I want people to be reading about me."
Elgort's film credits include Carrie, Divergent and The Fault in Our Stars.
Co-starring Jennifer Garner and Rosemarie DeWitt, Men Women & Children opens nationwide Oct. 3.