Technology has brought us many advantages

Technology has brought us many advantages

Column: Getting a grip on changing technology

Smartphones are incredible devices. But like every powerful tool, they require caution.

The death of the original iPhone passed quietly this month.

The device that effectively changed the way we communicate officially receded into obsolescence just 10 years after its introduction.

The phone itself – in all its 2G glory – still works. But the networks that supported it have finally pulled the plug.

It’s hard to believe a decade ago the iPhone that so many of us carry and count on didn’t exist.

Since its introduction much has changed. Advancements have been made (the original phone had a two megapixel camera; the latest is 12MP), and competitors have emerged. We now carry more computing power in our pocket than what was on an Apollo spacecraft. We take for granted the incredible technology that allows us to access information, manage our lives, share images and keep in touch.

But what has changed the most, perhaps, is our behaviour. While our phones have become smarter, many of us have not.

Rarely a week passes without news of some improper Facebook post, or ill-advised Tweet. And those are only the ones that gain notoriety.

Last week Chilliwack students and their parents were getting some hard facts on the harsh realities of our online world.

Technology has brought us many advantages, but it carries with it real risks.

That was the message delivered in several Chilliwack schools by a group called “Children of the Street.”  They’re encouraging parents to first educate themselves about the about risks and rewards technology brings, then talk openly with their kids.

A smartphone is an incredible device for keeping in touch with our children, and allowing them to communicate with their friends.

But it is a powerful tool. And just as we want them to learn to drive before we hand them the car keys, we should make sure they understand the power of the tool in their hand.

They need to understand that things they say and photos they post are never private on the internet; that something done out of anger, or even for fun, could easily come back and haunt them.

They need to know that the words they use can still hurt; that gossip and meanness can leave scars that never heal.

Most kids (and adults), unfortunately, have already discovered this reality.

But there is something more sinister on the other side of the screen: people who use the internet to gain the trust and confidence of the vulnerable.

The Children of the Street organization are hoping to make young people – and their parents – better aware of the dangers they face and how they can equip themselves to deal with those risks.

It’s not about fomenting fear, or distrust of technology.

It’s about education, awareness and empowerment.

The original iPhone may be obsolete, but the science that spawned it continues to evolve.

And with that evolution comes risks that we need to be aware of if we are going to control this technology and not allow it to control us.