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 discuss some of the problems that come with modern technology.

Let’s start with the troll. What is trolling? “A troll is Internet slang for a person who intentionally tries to instigate conflict, hostility, or discussion in an online social community. Platforms run by trolls may include YouTube comment sections, forums, or chat rooms. . . . . Trolling can happen anywhere that has an open area where people can freely post their thoughts and opinions.” (source: edu.gcfglobal.org).

I have learned to unfriend people who abuse Facebook to entertain themselves at the expense of others; some internet forums, however, can be an appropriate place for legitimate debate, IMO. But trolling is stealthy and insidious.

Next is cyberbullying. “Cyberbullying includes sending, posting, or sharing negative, harmful, false, or mean content about someone else. It can include sharing personal or private information about someone else that causes embarrassment or humiliation. Some cyberbullying crosses 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 going on with their children. Many teenagers have committed suicide because they have been humiliated in front of their friends on social media.

What is Facebook Jail? While I find the term amusing, some people see “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, either intentionally or accidentally.

“Due to violations, suspicious logins, or spammy 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 controlled by rigid automatic formulas (algorithms); you can innocently use words that can be racist or hateful in certain contexts. Let’s say you’re talking about trash bags and you say, “I have two bins with bags of different colors. White trash is for recycling…” The algorithm is alerted to the term “white trash” and thinks you’re engaging in hate speech! Look, you’re in Facebook jail! Computers are linguistically rigid and they are not very good at reading contexts.

The good news? Most of the time, the typical sentence for “Facebook jail” is one week. Even in the frequent case of false arrest!

When cell phones hit the scene, they were for making phone calls. Then they added texts and eventually morphed into the smartphone. Why do many authorities suggest that children 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 (like, for example, emergency phone calls or GPS), while other consequences are negative, seriously negative.

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

The article says: “According to a New York Times article, many tech executives wait until their child is 14 before allowing them to have a phone. Although these teens can make calls and send text messages, they’re not given a data plan until they’re 16. If the leaders of digital giants like Google, eBay, Apple and Yahoo are delaying the smartphone, shouldn’t that give us pause? Executives who thrive on the “Technologists are protecting their kids from smartphones. Shouldn’t we be doing the same?” (source: waituntil8th.org/why-wait)

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

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