Protecting the kids from access to everything

Technology is accelerating at Star Trekian warp speed. Consider what humankind has seen in 50 years. Inventions like the artificial heart, microwave ovens, functioning prosthetic limbs, MRIs, drones and a Hubble Telescope that peers back to the beginnings of time are just a tiny sample of humanity's creativity. Th applied science in your cellphone is higher tech, and has more computer power, than what Neil Armstrong and his crew had access to when they landed on the moon on July 20, 1969.

The frightening part, however, is that technological advances are exploding exponentially. What's cutting edge today will be an antique tomorrow. Progress has reached the point where no invention, innovation or discovery shocks us.

Someone born today may witness developments we can only dream about. Things like far more rapid worldwide travel, human exploration outside the solar system, flying cars, implanted artificial intelligence and cures for cancer and other human plagues may await your kids and grandkids. And just as the things we take for granted today, things that would have left our grandparents speechless — like cyberspace, cellphones, Wi-Fi, YouTube, Twitter and GPS — these future innovations will be taken in stride as well.

And speaking of innovations that changed society, isn't the internet marvelous?

The ability to access information on any subject, communicate instantaneously on multiple platforms, and engage in just about every type of business on the world wide web is nothing short of extraordinary. We now have the ability for instant access to most anything from anywhere and anyone on the planet.

The internet has given us so much, but at the same time, it's taken away a sense of innocence and purity.

No longer do we see kids playing pick-up baseball in a vacant lot. Instead, their faces are buried in their cellphones. When we were teenagers, we might have watched a scrambled HBO signal hoping to get a glimpse of some risqué female body part, or we might have secretly tuned in on an R-rated movie when our parents were out of the house, exposed to the violence of Dirty Harry, Scarface or Taxi Driver.

But, even in those hard-core shoot 'em up movies, we never really saw anything too graphic. For that matter, the pay per view nudity was tepid at best. On the web, kids today have full access to porn 24 hours a day, seven days a week. What's worse is the availability of truly horrific violent content. The latest shooting in New Zealand, for example, was streamed live on Facebook. The public could be privy to watching a madman systematically kill 50 innocent people like he was playing a video game.

We live in a world where people are entertained (yes, entertained) by incidents like the Columbine, Aurora and Vegas shootings. In a single afternoon of binge-watching, a person can witness all these real-life shoot-to-kill videos. Pop some corn and take a seat – the show's about to start. In a little more than a decade, your children could have witnessed hangings, decapitations, shootouts, unimaginable animal cruelty, and dozens upon dozens of murders — all with a few touches to their touch screens.

It's a miracle all kids aren't in therapy.

Personally, I am still haunted by the visual of Daniel Pearl being executed with a rusty blade by a group of terrorists in Pakistan. I can't imagine what something like that might do to a young child.  A quote from the National Center for Health Research said, "Although not every child or teen exposed to violence through media will become violent, media violence is very strongly connected with aggressive or violent behavior in those children. Exposure to violence in video games not only desensitizes people to violence, but also decreases empathy in children and adults. After watching violent movies or playing violent video games, people are less likely to show empathy behavior in their behaviors, for example, helping someone up who has fallen."

Are we slowly turning our offspring into soulless zombies?

I'm a firm believer in the U.S. Constitution. I make my living using the First Amendment. However, there must be some protective layer we can construct so that today's youth will have limited — if not zero — ability to watch this type of content without supervision. I call on Mark Zuckerberg and the rest of the tech geniuses to develop algorithms and controls specifically designed to protect children.

Free speech must remain free, but we must do a better job protecting young eyes from these horrors.

Lee Elci is the morning host for 94.9 News Now radio, a station that provides "Stimulating Talk" with a conservative bent.


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