The Consequences of Technology: Patty Blount Guest Post and Give@way

The Consequences of Technology 

In 2004, my son had a growth spurt. He hit five foot nine, started shaving, endured some vicious acne and all the other curses of puberty and so, became the favorite target of a group of little boys who thought it was great fun to tear down the giant. This torment had gone on for months before I ever learned about it.
I didn’t learn about it until my son told me he no longer wanted to live.
He was in sixth grade. Today, he’s in college and doing well, but I will tell you he bears deep scars from his ordeal.
Let’s skip to 2009: a new executive at my day job directed us to start incorporating social media into our work. I knew nothing about networks like Facebook and Twitter and had a lot of homework to do before I could figure out how to meet his directive. The more work I did, the more grateful I became that none of these networks were around back in 2004.
If they had been, I’m sure I would have lost my son.
Social networks are great tools. They give a voice to anyone with an internet connection, they allow us to remain connected to folks we’d otherwise have lost touch with, and they expose us to news before the networks can report it. Here’s the irony:  the things that make social networks so great are also the very things that make them so dangerous. The problem with everyone having a voice is that we can’t readily determine which voices are qualified to support the opinions being stated and which are just hot air. Remaining connected can easily become stalking. And, ‘news’ may be nothing more than rumor. (Bon Jovi did not die in December of 2011.)
I have two more bullet points for the Danger list: First, many of us are more likely to say something snarky online than directly to someone’s face. Psychologist John Suler calls this the Online Disinhibition Effect and what’s really scary is most of us aren’t even aware we’re caught up in it. According to Suler, the internet makes us all anonymous and invisible and because there’s no online authority, exaggerates our own sense of self.
In other words – it’s a power trip and power is pretty much the bully’s objective, isn’t it?
Second, there is the immediacy of it and I want to stress that this is NOT a trap limited only to teens. Adults are just as likely to lose their tempers and take inappropriate action based on anger as teens. This is actually why I chose SEND as the title of my book – because the Send key is RIGHT THERE at the top of the screen, just itching to be clicked before you’ve carefully crafted the message you want to express.
I think it’s important for all of us to remember two things: first, technology is not a toy and second, children are not short adults, which means that is exactly how they’ll treat technology. Social sites, smart phones and the internet have the potential for positive and negative results. I don’t know how children can distinguish the good from the bad without guidance from adults.
How old were your children when you bought them a cell phone? Are they on Facebook or Twitter? Do you know who they’re talking to? Better question – do you know who’s talking to them?

Giveaway: Thanks to Sourcebooks I have one copy up for grabs. This contest is open to US/Canada residents only. You must be at least 13 years old to enter. Good luck!

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  1. Thanks so much for the giveaway :)

    I would love to win this book and share it with my daughter. She's only 7 but we have discussed bullying. One of the main reasons I homeschool her is out of the fear of bullying and i can't bear the thought of her going through that kind of trauma. Bullies are getting younger and younger these days. I am so sorry about what happened to your son.

    I was teased as a kid for a number of reasons. But it stopped when I got home. With modern technology, it NEVER stops.

    I agree that you should never say online that you wouldn't say to someone's face. I'll tell my daughter the same thing when she starts using social media. Although she has an iPad, Wii, NETFLIX, she is not on Twitter/Facebook. She doesn't have an email. And she has no need for a cell phone.

    1. Hi Mona, Technology is great, but it can also be terrible. As a parent, I always want to protect my kids. It's hard when there is so much negativity out there. My 8 year old asked me a few weeks ago if I though she was fat. She's not, but I was aghast that she would even think she is. Kids can be merciless in their 'teasing'. I try to keep my kids away from social media right now as well. Thanks for your comment.

  2. Thank you for posting about this incredible book .. and perfect timing with school starting back up. I have two middle schoolers - one of whom is on the cusp of puberty and all the fun that goes with it. Being a kid is not easy and there are so many other kids out there who will take every chance they can get to put down someone else.

    I would -love- to share this book with my kids.

    Thank you!
    Donna M.

    1. Hi Donna, Thank for your comment. I think this book would work for kids as well as adults. Being a kid is not easy. You're right about some kids take every chance they get to put down someone else. I feel strongly about this issue. I love technology, but I also see the problems it can cause.

  3. The more work I did, the more grateful I became that none of these networks were around back in 2004. VLC Media Player


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