Teach kids technological responsibility

Sometimes I feel as if ‘kids’ are growing up too fast these days. Well, actually I think that most days; technology has created a somewhat overbearing presence in our society that cannot be ignored. I miss the days of being a 13-year-old kid, without a care in the world. I would hop on my bike in the morning, with the breeze blowing in my hair, and not be seen again until the sun went down. It was total freedom and etched into my memory as an enlightened time in my life with a severe lack of responsibility.

Those days were simple. Now, we live in a fast-paced world and I can’t help but wonder, what kind of world will my children grow up in? Not that it was all that long ago, but when I was 13, Mark Zuckerberg was just thinking about enrolling in college. Cell phones were available, but still pretty archaic. My family had dial-up Internet that we barely used. Like I said, times were simple.

It is obvious that technology isn’t going away. It is only increasing at an accelerated pace; unfortunately this has catapulted our youth into an era where the responsibility for their actions is placed heavily on their shoulders. The following story exemplifies a situation that could have been played out differently with social media:

One long afternoon bus ride proved to be the fuel for a sequence of hilarious events. My best friend, Dereck, and I had found our own seats in the back to sprawl out and take a nap. The warm sun hit the window and put us out in a hurry, as we were warm and comfortable. Suddenly I heard the voice of a girl who we all knew as an infamous instigator.

“Jeesh, Dereck, is that a roll of quarters in your pocket or are you happy to see me?” she laughed insatiably.

My heavy eyelids flipped open to observe the situation. My friend had been in a deep sleep himself and awoke to loud outbursts and pointing fingers. I chuckled at the sight that lay before me. Sure enough, a well-known piece of male anatomy had swelled to the point of being extremely noticeable through his jeans.

Jokes ensued and an unbridled uproar made its way across the aisle. The bus driver was so enraged that she actually pulled the bus over to calm the situation. And by calming the situation, I mean a four-foot-tall woman came barreling toward the back of the bus screaming her fool head off. By this time we had been laughing so hard that our eyes were watery and red.

“I see what’s going on here,” our bus driver Ellie said. “What have you boys been doing, let me see your eyes. You’re in big trouble. I’ll see you in the principal’s office tomorrow.”

Entertaining enough, she had managed to misconstrue the situation into a completely different offshoot, thinking that we were under the influence of illegal drugs. By the time we had reached the principal’s the next day she was there waiting. Lucky for us, there had been no iPhone to record the incident. There was no YouTube video for proof, or any Facebook status updates. We blamed the incident on a funny case of flatulence and the bus report was dismissed. My friend walked away unscathed. After our bus driver had left, the principal pulled us aside and asked us what was really going on. We confessed the whole story and he began to laugh. Boys will be boys.

“I feel like I’m in the middle of a ‘Porky’s’ movie here! Get to class boys.” And that was that.

A simple, yet extremely embarrassing situation such as this can now be viewed by the world. Everyone seems to have a portable recording device right in the palm of their hand. That has contributed to extreme bullying. I look to the news and see the struggle that children and teenagers face in our world, and that very little is sacred anymore. Technology has led a forceful disrobing of privacy. What ended up being in our situation, an innocent play of events, could have been used to target my friend and strip away his integrity. Technology is not going away. As a culture and modern society, we all need to make an effort to educate children and young adults on how to hold this source of power in their hands, with a sense of responsibility.