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Lewis: Misplaced fears |

Lewis: Misplaced fears |


I have a business idea. I'm going to open a strip club across the street from a college. I'm going to forgo the cumbersome age verification of IDs and just ask people if they're over 21 and take their word for it. How does it sound? If you were a member of the Eagle County Planning Board, would you approve of my plan?

There is a huge chance that this will be approved. In fact, I'm not even sure strip clubs are allowed in Eagle County. In the “real world,” we go to great lengths to protect our children. Children today face few real risks. Just look at a modern playground. Everything seems padded these days. I remember when there was only raw steel for hard gravel to fall on.

In the real world, we accompany our children everywhere and have strict laws and age restrictions on everything like alcohol, gambling, and adult entertainment. Yet ironically, in the virtual world, our children are largely unprotected. Every child with an unrestricted smartphone, tablet, or computer has essentially unlimited access to hardcore porn, graphic violence, gambling, and other adult content. Parents face an incredible challenge when trying to control access because there are few regulations enforceable in the virtual world.

Even though kids have no chance of getting into a strip club, with just general access to the Internet, they can easily watch porn on their phones. Does it make sense to go to the trouble of regulating the real world and then ignore the virtual world? I do not think so.

In his new book, “The anxious generation“, Jonathan Haidt proves that not only is the increase in adolescent anxiety/depression correlated with the increase in social media and online gaming, but that there is causality. Children, especially those in their formative years (12-15 years), are significantly affected by these technologies He argues that we overprotect our children in the real world where they face certain challenges and risks (to learn, fail, grow and mature) all. by underprotecting them in the online world where, without constraints, the potential risks to health and long-term happiness are much greater The data presented in the book is overwhelming and clear. (mainly aimed at girls) and online games (mainly aimed at boys) have significant negative impacts, particularly among young adolescents.

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I think his analysis is absolutely correct and it is time for meaningful change. This burden cannot fall solely on parents; we need technology that provides more safeguards against real-world risks, as well as new policies and regulations that require Internet content providers to have the same duty of care as a bar or liquor store in terms of the sale of alcohol to adults. .

Content on the Internet should be subject to the same age requirements that we have for movies, alcohol, gambling, and adult entertainment in the real world. For example, devices could be configured so that the user's age is hardcoded into the device. Parental controls shouldn't be an afterthought, they should be standard on every device.

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Haidt also suggests that schools become smartphone/device free zones. Some parents may complain about needing to be able to reach their children, but they can do what we have done for generations to call the school in an emergency. In the real world, we should work to give our children more freedom and opportunities to learn and grow. This means that our attitude towards what constitutes “adequate supervision” must change.

The data is clear and conclusive and it is time to act.

Mark Lewis, a Colorado native, has had a long career in technology, including serving as CEO of several technology companies. He is now retired and writes detective novels. Mark and his wife Lisa and their two Australian Shepherds Kismet and Cowboy reside in Edwards.




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