Where Did They Get That Idea? (aka The Zip Code Trap)

When I was a kid we moved around a lot as my father left his medical residency, joined a practice, and eventually owned his own practice. The four of us lived in a two bedroom apartment, then a three bedroom apartment and then a house by the time I was 8 years old. Although I didn’t know at the time, I later learned that this was the name of the game in trying to raise a happy, healthy, and safe family. My parents knew that certain zip codes had opportunities, standards, values and a level of safety that others did not. It made sense then and it still makes sense now…to a certain extent.

Every generation of parents tries to improve the lives of the successive generation. Families tended to gravitate towards other like-minded families. The “system” worked. But in 2007, the smartphone began its charge full steam ahead. Right past the zip code, right past the school yard, right past the front yard and into the naive and undeveloped mind of young children. Wi-Fi slipped under the wire.

All the negative, filthy, depraved habits of people, places, and things that parents tried to shield their children from by moving to certain areas, ended up in the palms of their innocent children’s hands as if they didn’t make the effort in the first place. Poor behavior, propaganda, cursing, violence, nudity, etc. right at their fingertips, and they could find it by accident almost as easily as they could find it on purpose.

Like most things in life that can be negative, hiding Pandora’s box from children is the best way for them to find Pandora’s box. When we teach a child about the power of a smartphone, he or she also starts to understand the power of individual human beings who post content and images online, or who created the internet and the phone in the first place. Without understanding the human power that it took to make the smartphone possible, I don’t think it is possible to empower a child to recognize his/her own control over this “magical device”. We cannot protect children from everything, but we can teach them to learn to protect themselves and how to rise to the challenge.

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