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And they didn’t have a phone?

By Robin Dearing
I remember being asked, "And they didn't have a phone?" more than once by my parents while I was a teenager. That question is pretty much obsolete. Now the question goes, "And you didn't have your phone with you?" Which is a trick question because now cell phones have chaperone features that allow parents to find the exact location of a cell phone. The world of our teenagers just got a whole lot smaller. But that's really the trend these days, smaller. Everything is smaller, phones, computers and the world, in general (just not people or cars). With the new technology, we can stay in contact with people anywhere in the country or the world. The breadth of information available to our children is a blessing and a curse. Margaret has been using our home computer to play educational video games online (PBSKids.org, noggin.com, etc.) since she was 3 years old. computer.jpg She could open an Internet browser, go to favorites and pick the Web site she wanted even before she could read. She knew the giant blue "e" would get her to Web. From there she could use her knowledge of the alphabet to get where she wanted to go. Now she finds Web addresses on toy boxes, on television and on candy wrappers, which she diligently transcribes into her browser and navigates sites with little help from us. This is great in that she can learn more about the things that interest her. But it's scary because of all of the information out there that is not appropriate for children. She could easily stumble upon a site that contains images that could shatter her cocoon of innocence. We do what we can to protect her but watching what she does and where she goes on the Web, but it never feels like enough. I guess that is the moral behind the story of parenting; it never feels like you can do enough.

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