Scrolling up and down my desktop the other day, looking for information for a letter I was writing, I came across a notice that rated me on how much time I spend on the internet. I felt guilty.
Allow me to justify the high numbers. One reason is because I write and need to research. Also, I have a daughter and a sister who live on the other side of the world with whom I need to touch base. And I recently discovered I could access my Bible with one click.
Okay, I also play Spider Solitaire. Scrabble? And I love to run and rerun videos of my sweet great-grandbabies. I don’t do Netflix as often as I could, but I do spend some evenings listening to Streisand and Sinatra.
To say that the world has changed on account of the internet is a huge understatement. It is amazing how it has influenced our lives. We have built bridges in cyberspace, and time and distance no longer matter.
And yet it has virtually maimed us from physically embracing and touching one another in love or compassion. Now a text suffices.
Don’t get me wrong. I salute the genius behind the information highway. Daily I look forward to new adventures as I search for validation of my opinions or delve into quotations from the great people of bygone eras and learn at their feet. I cannot deny the awe I feel to know all of it is literally at my fingertips.
Dark and devious
Unfortunately, too many unwelcome elements have now found their way into our lives via the internet. We have unwittingly invited dark and devious characters into our homes. That they are later proven to be hoaxes changes nothing except perhaps the degree of fear they initially provoked.
When your account is hacked, it is like having a stranger, armed and dangerous, break into your home. Pop-ups are uninvited devices that brazenly gatecrash your privacy. In my case, most of them are silly advertisements. But I don’t know how to drive them away.
For the past several weeks, alarms went off about the Momo Challenge, a frightening pop-up programmed to prey on children online, challenging them to engage in peculiar activities, its final intent being that the users kill themselves.
Of course, the reaction was nothing short of hysterical.
Last week someone posted a video titled “The Bobo Challenge,” probably in a brave attempt to arrest the Momo invasion. If this was meant to be a deterrent, it totally missed its mark. The video skit was done in typical coarse Pinoy slapstick and bordered on ridiculous.
That people have researched Momo’s origin and finally declared it a hoax does not make me sleep any better. Momo, authentic or otherwise, will not be the last enemy we find on the internet. Today’s world is brimming with all kinds of monsters.
How do we protect our children from these scary encounters? Can we insulate them from the danger?
As always, the responsibility rests in the home front.
But do parents know what their children are watching or doing on the internet? Do the kids have unlimited and unsupervised use of their phones and gadgets? And if they are in their teens, can their parents even attempt to curtail their “fun” time?
How does a mom or dad warn their child about future Momos? A closer rapport between children and parents may be key. I agree. But shouldn’t this start early on? Shouldn’t there be rules? Penalties? Some prefer not to talk to their children about these dangers, as it might pique their curiosity and create a bigger problem.
It reminds me how, back in the day, our parents were up in arms against allowing sex education in schools. They desperately wanted to keep everything under wraps, afraid the young ones would go out looking for it.
That mystery has long since disappeared. For decades now, even grade school kids know about sex. And no one refers to it as the birds and the bees anymore.
It is the generation of the know-it-alls.
Really? I thought they were called millennials!
Scary scenarios whirl around in my head and keep me awake. When I sleep I have nightmares. I fear for the children and grieve over the helplessness I feel as a grandmother “fighting the windmills.”
I cannot understand why the sight of monstrous images no longer frightens or repels children. It is unnatural.
What has happened to us? Why do we gravitate to what is weird and ugly? Why are we so fascinated with the unusual?
Have we become so desensitized by what surrounds us that even the most vile-looking monster no longer makes our skin crawl? Has the internet lulled our sensibilities? Are we now so familiar with the bizarre that we can accept the unacceptable?
I think of the Book of Revelation and I shudder.
Who has the answers? You can read what research experts and psychologists have to say. Yes, in the internet.
I believe there is a war and it threatens our children. It needs to be fought. Ground zero is our home.
When do we start? Some say it is never too early. Let us pray that we are not too late.