July 28, 2006

Cornucopia / Cynthia Dewes

Grabbing onto the wave of the future

People worry all the time these days about the welfare of their children, especially teenagers.

And rightfully so. There are drugs, risky sex and worse things than rock ‘n’ roll out there now, just waiting to destroy an innocent kid’s life.

There have always been predators of many kinds, but now we seem to have even more of them, in previously unimaginable forms, threatening our children. And while we used to fear mountain lions or grizzly bears, now we find them tame in comparison to the menace of human pedophiles, sadists and amoral thrill seekers lurking on the modern scene in person and on the Internet.

Still, many children don’t seem to get this message. They may nod in agreement when parents describe what might happen if they’re not careful. They may even believe that they will be vigilant and obedient to their folks’ rules. But usually, their age gets in the way, once more reinforcing the reason why we codify legal ages of majority.

After all, youth is the age of invulnerability when we think we’ll never grow old, never be thwarted in any desire, and never face a danger we can’t overcome. It’s a wonderful quality which all of us possess before final maturity because if we didn’t the human race would soon fade from the natural scene.

Well, friends, I think I’ve discovered what may be our salvation. And, surprise, I learned it from observing some of my grandchildren. The very subjects of our concern showed me the way, so to speak, and it involves technology. Are we surprised?

Now, lots of people my age are as technically challenged as I am, so I am not embarrassed by my lack of knowledge in this area. In fact, I thought I was doing pretty good to master the TV remote, the VCR and the computer. Well, it’s true I only do e-mail and Word stuff on the latter, but at least I’ve got a foot in the door of the modern age.

Anyhow, what my grands demonstrated to me was the use of various technologies to keep in touch with each other, their parents and employers, and whomever else they need to contact. In fact, they keep in touch so much, they lack the privacy we used to enjoy as a matter of necessity! But that’s a topic for another time.

Kids are urged to “Call me when you get there,” or “Call me when you leave for home,” or “Call me with your new schedule [plan, itinerary].”

This works so well, in fact, that my grandson even called me inside the house from where he was sitting in his car in the driveway! He wanted me to know he’d arrived home safely during a terrific electrical storm, but wouldn’t come inside until the rain let up. I thought that was very thoughtful.

It turns out that mobile telephones are good for a lot of other stuff, too. My granddaughter uses hers as an alarm clock. However, for some reason which has to do with “snooze” and “off,” she’s been a tad late to work a couple of times. Since she works at the same place as her mother, you can bet this problem will be fixed soon.

Technological devices will do almost anything else for you, or to you, that you could ever imagine. They are the wave of the future, so it’s a good thing we have some grands around to explain them to us.

(Cynthia Dewes, a member of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Greencastle, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)


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