I’ve been a parent for 26 years, my youngest being 14 years old now. Since I became a parent, I’ve had my time with my kids compromised by divorce, sports, friends, the challenging adolescent years, and by the Gameboy, back in the day. In all those 26 years, I’ve never witnessed something that could, if allowed, hijack my child so quickly from me. The separation and isolation that is caused by a device that we purchase and allow our children to have, is simply astonishing. We buy and feel pressured to allow them to have things that all kids have, because we don’t want our children to be or feel left out. But what are we doing, what are we allowing, what risks are we willing to take for the sake of our children?
I believe cell phones and social media are the silent digital killer of our youth today: a killer of their minds, time and real connection to others. That might seem harsh to you, but from my view it is not a pretty sight. As a society we look at drugs, addiction and mental illness as the issues that happen to others, while right under our noses we have an epidemic that is in the palms of hands everywhere and is viewed as normal. That epidemic looks like technology addiction, pornography, or a predator playground — and includes sexting, sextortion and a permanent digital footprint that can alter the lives of our children. The “hack attack” that our youth experience in this generation is one that we have never seen, nor experienced ever before at this level. The price tag is high and the risks could be detrimental. It is time as parents to take back our children with balance and supervision, and use the tools that are available to protect them. The virtual world is not a real world so don’t let them get lost in it.