Editorial: Virtual reality and responsibility

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Last week we received a long, thoughtful email from a viewer in Tallassee.

She expressed her concerns about how the internet, social networking, Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and the like are eroding teenagers' sense of responsibility for their actions.

She wrote…

"All respect in manner of conduct evaporates in this environment…   they can make a statement online and hide behind it… they can say whatever they want and receive no immediate consequence." 

She then went on to relate this modern phenomenon to the recent incident at Tallassee High School, where 7 students took a pre-graduation prank too far, vandalized the school, and the burglary and criminal mischief charges against them were dropped.

While I think it would be stretch to blame interactive media platforms for the actions of these kids, I do agree with the viewer that there is a connection.  Virtual reality is only a small part of real life, yet kids spent an inordinate amount of time in the digital realm.

Since these technologies are here to stay, and young people are going to use them, the onus is on adults… teachers, employers, the media, and especially parents… first, to use the technology responsibly ourselves, and to pay attention to what our young people say, hear, read, watch, type and do.

Perhaps as television was in my youth, limiting the time kids spend in the virtual world every day may be a good idea.

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