CyberStrong Mesa County is the first community campaign in the nation that helps parents and children…the core of our community…develop skills to use the cyber world to improve rather than harm their lives.

Why?  Because we’re finally getting the data on how cyber world has affected us and, more importantly, our children, these past ten years as technology devices have become small, affordable and “smart.”

Until now we couldn’t have known what these affects would be, because we are the very first humans to have raised cyber-influence children.

First, there are amazing strengths in the cyber world.  Our access to the world of knowledge, ideas, and people has been unprecedented in human history. Our opportunities to create, be heard, be published and acknowledged is tremendous.  The playing field is even in this world.  Wealth, education, who-you-know does not dictate cyber success.  Cyber opportunities abound.

I recall ten years ago driving with my ever-curious daughter, that she asked question after question about the earth, the universe and humans.  I recall knowing the answers to about twenty-percent of those questions, and promising we’d try and find the answers.  We never did.  Now my grand-nieces ask these same questions and we just ask Seri.  She always knows the answers.  We don’t yet know the long-term effects of growing up with access to so much information, but I’m guessing their creativity, innovation and problem-solving skills will be accelerated.  That’s if we can help them negative the negative consequences of the cyber world.

Those negative cyber-consequences come mainly from being connected too many hours, from the abundance of cyber-information being too negative and/or distorted, and from addictive algorithms built into most cyber-games, social media and information.  Those are hurting all of us, though they are especially toxic to our teenagers.

Mesa County is the not only dot on the globe whose teens are suffering these days.  There is a global epidemic of hopelessness stealing much of our youths’ innate enthusiasm around friendship, romance, and futures.

We’ll never know every reason this has occurred in the past decade, but we do know that ten years ago we used these devices about two hours a day.  We know that today’s teens and adults’ use is about ten hours a day.  We know we check our phones about eighty-five times a day, and swipe, type, click and tap our phones 2,600 times a day.

We’re very cyber-influenced.

CyberStrong Mesa County is the collaboration of the Mesa County Public Library’s, School District 51, and Hilltop Services. It is funded by a generous grant from the Western Colorado Community Foundation.

Elizabeth Clark

About the Author

Elizabeth Clark has been a mental health therapist for teens and families for thirty years.  She is a presenter for CyberStrong, a collaborative community effort, funded by the Western Colorado Community Foundation, to raise awareness and give skills to parents and educators about the influence of technology on our children, families and community.