Monday, June 18, 2012

The social cost we'll pay for unchecked expansion of technology

I am starting to understand how my 15 years of Internet networking experience and my passion for the issue of Human Trafficking are related!  I have been a community advocate here in Phoenix for almost four years and all the while anticipated the news I heard today.  Turns out that a couple of young, teenage girls in Canada were recently arrested for trafficking other teens for sex!  (You can read the whole story here:  http://bit.ly/MjhGzX)  What concerns me the most about this story is that these teen girls, completely comfortable and knowledgable with the use of Internet and social media worked completely on their own to trap and broker young girls to john's directly.  No adults involved.

One would ask, where are they learning this behavior?  We live in a society today that is based on exploitation.  Maybe this has always been the case, but the Internet makes it far easier for one to get outside their community and lure in an unsuspecting, unknowing victim to take advantage of.  This has been my greatest concern with technology and "the network" expanding as quickly as it has.  Being part of/ associated with the organizations that are truly building the Internet, I have had conversations with business professionals that are bragging about the fact that these companies are laying fiber in third world countries, delivering electricity AND the Internet all at once.  So, these individuals that have never so much as had an e-mail account now have social media and are "friending" all sorts of people, regardless of whether they know them or not.  Frankly, it is scary.

How do we transition our kids from blurring physical boundaries and emotional boundaries?  These are not the same.  As a child, I learned boundaries as physical.  This is easy to teach.  Providing our kids the basic rules for activity on-line is critical at this point.  We need to get our parents engaged and interested in social media in order to prevent further exploitation.  As I've said many times, it is only going to get worse before it gets better.  The social stakes are a generation of kids that have been exploited due to unsupervised on-line activity and a lack of understanding of emotional boundaries.

Our free market believes in expansionism and profit-seeking, regardless of the costs to society.  How are we preparing our children for the explosion of on-line porn?  How are we preparing our children for the explosion of social media?  How are we preparing our children for what's expected to be exponential growth of on-line access from foreign countries where trading in people is cultural norm?  It starts by being prepared ourselves.  These technology tools can be used for bad...which is why MANY refuse to use them.  Well, these technology tools can be used for good as well!  Social media platforms are wonderful for educating, building awareness, sharing the truth (whatever your truth may be).  It is time for MY generation of parents...all parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles...to get engaged. This isn't fear-mongering...this is a call-to-arms. There is a war on-line and, I hate to say it, the bad guys are winning!