Friday, November 16, 2012

Cell phones & Internet: A dangerous combination

Among the many things I am always telling myself, there is this: I am glad I grew up in a time without the Internet, and, of course, cell phones.

I am guessing there are a few kids - and adults - out in Radnor today who might feel the same way.

I did plenty of dumb things when I was young. That's what kids do. Most of mine, fortunately, are now only cloudy memories.

In the age of cell phones and the Internet, however, those things never go away. They take on a life of their own. And they remain in cyberspace forever.

Police in Radnor yesterday confirmed they were investigating the theft of a cell phone that may contain some very sensitive photos and/or video of a high school student. They also believe some of that sensitive information may have been shared or posted online.

The police aren't sure yet what is on the phone, which they now have in their possession. They need a court order to examine its contents.

But judging by the reaction of students and some parents, I unfortunately think I know what they are going to find when they open up that phone.

If the students are to be believed, they are going to see some very intimate moments.

There is part of me that wonders about this mania we all have today of recording things that at one time we would not even talk about.

I guess times change.

Kids don't. They still do dumb things. My guess is this whole scenario, the theft of a phone and potential posting of images found on it online, amounts to what the kids thought was a prank.

It's not funny anymore.

If there is one thing I stress with young people every time I speak to a class, either in high school or college, it is to be very careful with what they post online. It never goes away.

My hope today is that police open up that phone and find nothing, that this entire thing was a hoax. My fear is that is not what is going to happen.

We live in a different world, drenched in technology, with a craving to be plugged in 24 hours a day.

Much of what goes out on Twitter and Facebook is today's version of gossipping over the back yard fence. Only this back yard is the Internet. And it covers a lot more ground than just the back yard. It's bigger than your group of freinds, your school or your town.

The Internet is everywhere. It covers the globe. Post something there and you're not sharing it with your friends, you're sharing it with the universe.

I'm glad I grew up when I did.

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