Can technology save kids in crisis?

This post is a bit off the beaten path for me.  I have had a few very trying experiences this week with students who are languishing under oppressive abuse and poverty, trying to see the point of school.  These students have such a fatalistic view of life and themselves, it is clear that school is merely a place to go to try to manage a typical teenage life, not a place to learn.

I got to thinking, is technology helping, hurting, or neutral in the lives of crisis?  For some students, home is torture, and school is not much better.  This is a sad fact.  It seems that when these students are faced with getting their phone taken away or their internet privileges taken away, the emotional impact seems so much greater than those of students from more stable backgrounds.

I am led to wonder just who is at the other end of the line?  Is it that one true friend whom we have now cut them off from?  Is it a family member so swamped in their own crisis, that they need to be ever-dependent upon the child for the illusion of stability?  Is it the security to know they carry the tool that can be relied upon in case of emergency, even if no immediate threat exists?

I have seen similar scenes where embattled students begin immersing in the internet.  Whether it is facebook, MySpace, or a fan page for a band, I think the illusion is that using these sites gives them belonging somewhere calls to them.

The dangers of this kind of thinking are pretty obvious, but in a life where even going home at the end of the school day is dangerous, how does it compare? Is there solace and comfort in those connections to the global community, or just a further sense of emptiness that reminds them that even among millions of others they are still insignificant?

I don’t know the answers, and I don’t think anyone else really does either.  What I do know is that there always have been and always will be certain kids in severe crisis.  As technology and society change, so then will the ways in which these kids reach out to the world for some form of human kindness.  What remains to be seen is whether they can find what they seek by texting, blogging, or surfing.


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