Ed Vasicek: The Problems with Modern Technology | Opinion

The golden rule of social media is, “Tweet others as you would like to be tweeted.” Today’s column will look at some of the problems that modern technology brings.

Let’s start with trolling. What is trolling? “Troll is internet slang for a person who deliberately tries to cause conflict, hostility or controversy in an online social community. Platforms targeting trolls can include YouTube comment sections, forums, or chat rooms. … Trolling can happen anywhere there is an open area where people can freely post their thoughts and opinions.” (source: edu.gcfglobal.org).

I’ve learned to unfriend people who abuse Facebook to have fun at others’ expense; however, some internet forums can be a good place for legitimate debate, IMO. But trolling is sneaky and insidious.

Next is cyberbullying. “Cyberbullying involves sending, posting or sharing negative, harmful, false or mean content about someone else. It may involve sharing personal or private information about someone else, causing embarrassment or humiliation. Some cases of cyberbullying cross the line into illegal or criminal behavior.”

Young people are often victims of (or perpetrators of) cruel and devastating cyberbullying, so parents need to keep an eye on what’s happening to their children. Many teenagers have committed suicide because they were humiliated in front of their friends on social media.

What is Facebook Jail? While I find the term amusing, some people see the “Facebook jail” as an attack on free speech. Sometimes it probably is.

“Facebook Jail is the term used when Facebook suspends accounts… for violating Facebook’s Community Standards, whether intentionally or accidentally.

“Due to violations, suspicious logins, or spam behavior, Facebook will suspend an account’s ability to post or use specific features for a period of time” (source: try.commentsold.com)

Unfortunately, Facebook is monitored by automatic hard formulas (algorithms); a person may innocently use words that may be racist or hateful in a certain context. Suppose you are talking about garbage bags and you say, “I have two bins with bags of different colors. White trash is for recycling…” The algorithm has been alerted to the term “white trash” and thinks you are engaging in hate speech! There you are in Facebook jail! Computers are linguistically rigid and not very good at reading contexts.

The good news? Most of the time, the typical “Facebook Jail” sentence is a week. Even in the frequent cases of false arrest!

When cell phones first arrived on the scene, they were for making phone calls. Then they added texts and finally became the smartphone. Why do many authorities suggest that children should not be given smartphones until they are at least 14 years old?

We know that smartphones have changed society in many ways; some things are for the better (such as emergency phone calls or GPS), while other consequences are negative – seriously negative.

According to an organization called Wait Until 14, smartphones have changed childhood. Children no longer play outside with their friends or read books. Many children spend 3 to 7 hours a day on their phones. Smartphones are addictive, mimicking brain responses associated with alcohol, drug or gambling addiction. They interfere with academics and actually reduce how well children can study or take tests; they are physically changing our children’s brains. They also interfere with sleep. Some children wake up repeatedly during the night to check for text messages. Children are more likely to be defiant if they spend a lot of time on their phones.

The article reads: “According to a New York Times article, many tech executives wait until their child turns 14 before letting them have a phone. Even though these teens can make calls and send texts, they don’t get a data plan until they’re 16. If the leaders of digital giants like Google, eBay, Apple and Yahoo are slowing down the smartphone, then shouldn’t that give us pause? Executives who thrive on the success of technology protect their children from the smartphone. Shouldn’t we do the same?” (source: waituntil8th.org/why-wait)

It has never been easy for parents to keep up with the latest challenges; nowadays it’s unbelievable but worth it!

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