The Computer: Friend and Foe Alike

In today’s fast paced modern culture we find it hard to take 15 minutes to stop and enjoy the silence. We are caught in a never ending race to stay connected with the rest of the world. And, when we do have 15 minutes to spare we depend on our trusted friend – the computer to take us somewhere other than where we are. The world wide web is a marvelous journey in our day that can take us anywhere we want to go.

Other electronics along with the computer have become our source for interaction with friends, family, and even our livelihoods. We tend to take for granted that the little machines we beam into daily will be forever obliged to perform at our beckoning. Whenever we need to contact someone we don’t give it a second thought; push the on switch to the computer, login to our social media, or pick up the cell phone that is attached to us like a third hand and we’re off and running. No long distance fees to worry about, no rushed conversations to stay within our monthly budgets, and the person we are typing with can’t even be heard by the person we are talking with (unless we’re in skype or google hangout).

This little screen that has become our life partner is the dream mate, the best friend, the perfect place to work, and the tireless source that makes our life flow like water running down a mountain stream and at times gushing over the side of a mountain. They don’t talk back, don’t interrupt us while we are talking (except for the occasional notification of incoming email or sports center update), and never, never judge us when we’re not up to par. But when things go wrong with our computer or smartphone all of the goodness they bring into our lives seems to walk right out the door and take everything with them.

When the NEST website crashed last month we lost all of our data back to August 2014. I learned a new level of frustration, experienced a type of panic (while minor, it showed me I had some inner work to do) and I found myself “out of sorts” at times when I would receive an email that let me know our site was down and someone wanted to access the curriculum charts or send the link to an interested person. We were down for several weeks. But when our “friend” decided to come back to us, it didn’t take too long to recreate what had been lost. Fortunately, I had saved a great deal of important information in email files and other desk top files, but there were things like blog posts that I did not save.

All in all, the experience was a good one. Life’s adversities show us what we’re really made of and if we are willing to do the work to correct our own inadequacies and short comings we will grow from them. Our computers really are that best friend. Even when they are down they still are affecting us in their absence.

The flip side of the amazing electronic world is it can also allow great harm in our lives and those who are vulnerable. That trusted friend can become our worst enemy in an instant. While great good comes from the internet it is also a playground for those that seek to do harm to others. We must all become more educated about firewalls and ways to protect ourselves and our children from harm on this magnificent tool that was created for good.

Education on internet safety for youth is a must. A new Pew Internet Project report reveals that 93% of teens ages 12‐17 go online. That means almost all of our youth are engaging on the internet and are most likely engaging with someone they do not know. In simple terms that is like sending them alone into the world without an adult to supervise and protect them. Almost all of the curriculum listed on the NEST website address media influence and internet safety. And several of the resources do as well. Check out these wonderful curriculum today and share them with educators in America’s school systems and youth leaders. Do it for your children, and mine.

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