In our book “The Story of Kennett” Joan Holliday and had a chapter on how to think about thinking. We are much more at ease with the brain storming, bridging variety,positive thinking than the “black hat thinking” which is anticipating what could go wrong.You need both types and this article about a danger isn’t as much fun to write.
In a previous article, I touched on the general issues of family, alcohol/drugs, and children having children that get in the way of our journey to become the best version of ourselves. Now,I want to address the conversations I had with two people who are looking after us. Some might think of them as our sheep dogs.
Dr. Heather Collins, director of special education at the Kennett School District, said that the pandemic, quarantine and social distancing has been hard on the children. We know it is driving the parents up the wall but the kids aren’t doing much better. Joan Holliday, my co-author and the public health nurse for Kennett for a long time will address the issue of mental health in a future article.
One of the epiphanies I had from writing this book about Kennett is that shepherding kids through 12 years of education to make them the best version of themselves takes a lot more than good teachers and staff. It takes enlightened parents, a knowledgeable student body (if you see something, say something), social workers, school counselors, community afterschool programs, and a police department that is there to keep them safe. It takes a village.
Kennett does so much of this well, continuously addressing the voids that show up. Just recently I learned about how Kacie’s Cause, a local non-profit addressing substance abuse, has a project with others to build a place at Anson B. Nixon Park where people can go for contemplation of life, their loved ones and losses. This will certainly meet a need that has been exaggerated during the pandemic.
The threat that Chief Simpson of the Southern Chester County Regional Police Department (SCCRPD) came up with surprised me, but it shouldn’t have. I kid him that he takes the responsibility for the safety of all of the community, but the resources to protect us from very few of the risks we face. You can go on line at “SCCRPD” and link to their website for the 2020 report of their considerable accomplishments.
I asked Chief Simpson what the threats were to the children? He said he felt pretty good that our community is safe and we don’t have gangs or youth crime of significance. Then he held up his phone and said,“There is this--Our kids have their screens, their phones and they are tied into a world that has a dark side.”
I remember a time 25 years ago when two 10 year olds were in their homes on an AOL Teenage Chat Room and one of the Dads came along to see them discussing with strangers something a 4th grader shouldn’t have been talking about. Dad said; “You’re not supposed to be there, you’re not a teenager.” The child said; “I can be a teenager if I want to be.” But that was the problem, a 45-year old pedophile could say the same thing.
That was just the beginning of the Web. It quickly moved into stories like a friend telling me that he learned that his 4-year old grandson bought the same movie three times to watch on his iPad. Another story I heard was about a 6 year old girl who got a new Barbie and went on line and ordered $400 worth of doll accessories to go with it.
There is a dark side to technology. Kids are getting phones at a younger and younger age. Minors have been known to text inappropriate pictures of themselves to friends which became a word in 2012 “sexting”. This is a felony.
The biggest threat of the internet may be too much screen time,but we need to be good gatekeepers for our children. There is so much uncontrolled information that the kids can access and some of it is coming from bad people.
If you stand back and look at what is going on, it is not just the kids who are at risk from the dark side of the web. The internet lets people live in a bubble where they only hear information that supports their beliefs and often those beliefs are false.
There can be a good part of connecting, like after the 2016 election, the Kennett High School students organized a march to show their support for their classmates (the Dreamers) in response to the anti-immigrant rhetoric of the election. Yet, on the dark side, we are learning that this same tool is used to distribute QAnon beliefs that there is a worldwide cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles who rule the world.
There were millions of dollars spent to get people to come to “The March to Save America” and call on Congress to “Stop the Steal.”The result of this was an attack on the capital killing 5 people and a police officer.
It was driven by the disinformation that the election wasn’t free and fair. Does anyone really believe this would have happened if there wasn’t Twitter, Facebook or Parlor to distribute these falsehoods?
Please monitor your children and grandchildren’s use of this powerful tool and protect them from the misuse of technology. And, we, as adults need to fact check the information we get from the internet as a regular practice.