Technology a carcinogenic addiction: A child’s observation

With the week that began with the tragic death of a young girl and culminated in candle-light vigils, international outrage and the re-opening of a criminal case, I was moved last night by the insightful thoughts of my 11-year-old daughter.

Many issues need addressing in the case of Rehtaeh Parsons. Not least is the issue of our young children handling technology they can’t understand, at far too young an age.

Here’s her take on kids ‘KiK’ing each other online and living their lives through a keyboard:

From my Blog: From Canada…with Love:

As I tucked my daughter into bed tonight, she said to me she thinks cyber-technology is like smoking.

She’s only 11 but she’s made a connection that it’s addictive, she says, “like smoking cigarettes.”

“Once you start you can’t stop. And YOU didn’t have texting Mum, until you were more than 20-years-old. You know how to live without it.” (Little does she know, I was more like 30.)

She asked me, “What are they all going to do?” Many of her friends, she explains, don’t know how to live without it. She’s afraid they’ll never learn how to have alone time. Quiet space where the outside world doesn’t reach you. Not to care about who is saying what online at any given moment.

It’s an interesting and scary question.

It’s been an emotionally charged week with the tragic death of Rehtaeh Parsons. How technology played a huge part in her death has communities reeling with a need for answers.

What lurks at the tips of our childrens fingers?

An app called SNAP boasts dissolving photographs seconds after they’re sent, so quick promiscuous flashes can evade being spread.

Kids “KIK” each other regularly on iPods, iPhones and iPads. It’s the popular way to group text. The name alone sounds mean and it can easily turn that way. “Let’s KIK each other.” Really?

I began my CBC internship on a difficult week where journalists were constantly tested on what they should and what they should not report. Suicide. And a beautiful young girl gone before her time.

I participated in interviews that questioned the ethics of reporting about suicide and examined how to help and not cause further harm.

But I’m not sure I found any answers for my daughter.
She’s right though. The longer our children can live without the addiction, the more they’ll be able to resist it and have the knowledge and maturity to find a balance.

Addictions are hard to break. And even harder if you can’t remember the freedom of no one knowing your every move, thought and opinion.

Keeping the world of texting, surfing, video chatting away from kids just a little bit longer doesn’t sound like such a bad idea.

I’ve broached the need to educate about the dangers of technology, earlier in our schools. If children are in chat-rooms and on Facebook in Grade 3, teaching them about the dangers in Grade 6, 7 or 8 is too late.

I don’t know why tragic events have to hit in our own back garden before we react.

Looking back less than a year and there’s a trail of cries from young girls from around the world, taken too early because we missed the call. Suicide, cyber-bullying and our youth has become common.

Too little too late, for too many.