My goal is to use the pages of this book to inform and guide readers how to develop a healthy relationship with the so-called ‘virtual worlds’ in which we reside in today’s society. Among these worlds are wireless communications, interactive platforms, tsunamis of information, fictional simulated worlds - realities in which millions of people around the world co-exist simultaneously in their daily lives. I have included tools such as reflection, exercises / actions and resources to help you deal effectively with this ever-expanding issue.
The Internet and the cyber-connected worlds can be seen as open waters more than a closed controlled pool. In a pool, a lifeguard is often nearby and the area is controlled and contained. The Internet is not like swimming in a pool at all; it is more like diving into open water. Even with net tools, “net-nannies” and similar limit setting devices, it is easy to find links and lures to other areas of the Net, allowing unsuspecting leisure swimmers to be swept up by cyber waves into unknown and sometimes risky waters. There are many technological portals to this world, ranging from smart phones, cyber watches, tablets, laptops, and desktop computers. The sometimes calm surface of the Internet is often linked to darker sites that are often just a click away. Some people are oblivious to the potential implications and dangers that exist in some patches of cyberspace.
Like shark-infested waters, there may be cyber scammers, predators and pornography snares. Some people become so anxious about these potential dangers that they avoid using the Net, which is not realistic in the 21st century. The key to navigating the Net is not to avoid it completely but to tread carefully. It is therefore important to learn how to have a healthy relationship with cyberspace by developing vigorous strokes to keep afloat and prevent drowning in the cyber waves. This book will give you the knowledge, skills and attitudes to do that.
WHO is this book for?
PARENTS:Raising children in the 21st century, surrounded and invaded on all sides by cyber tech, is not simple. The landscape of parenting has changed over the decades. There is still the need for concern with issues such as safety, nutrition and education. As if those concerns are not enough, today’s parents worry (as they should) about their children’s activities in the use of the newest technology. The reality is that many adults in our world have no idea how to develop their own healthy relationship with today’s high tech technology; their focus is to get whatever job or task completed without crashing their computer or zapping their mobile devices. It is our responsibility to be role models for the next generation. In reality, many adults have similar or even more serious problems managing their screen time, quick communications, and general healthy boundaries than younger users.
THE WHOLE FAMILY: Do not think that that only the young can develop unhealthy behaviours with cyber activities. You could know a senior who has just been handed a tablet device and is now being bombarded by scam ads. You could be the son or daughter of that senior who needs to help educate your parent on this! You might be the youthful grandson or granddaughter who people worry is spending too much time on the computer – and need to show your family your own use is healthy: you might need to be the one to teach them about current cyber issues, netiquette, and more. The information here can also be used by entire families to read and reflect together to work as a unit in developing your own family values in interacting with the virtual and wireless worlds.
TEACHERS: The material in this book, although aimed at families, is also presented for discussion in educational institutions. Each section deals with a specific theme, with reflective exercises that can be adapted to different learner groups.
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About the Author
An award-winning psychiatrist, Dr. Ballon brings close to two decades of experience in providing innovative education, novel simulations, coaching, group facilitation and creativity-enhancing techniques for teaching and training to individuals and groups. Dr. Ballon is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Public Health for the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine, as well as an Adjunct Professor for the University of Ontario Institute of Technology’s Faculty of Health Sciences. As the Director of Education for SIM-one (the Simulation Network of Ontario), he embraces an interprofessional collaborative approach and a spirit for collaboration. He is the Head of the Advanced Clinical and Educational Services for Problem Gambling, Gaming and Internet Addiction at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. He also participates in the Arts and Humanities for Healthcare activities offered through Mount Sinai Hospital. Dr. Ballon also works with industries involved in interactive technology and games for understanding its impact on people’s lives. He is also an illusionist who performs magic and mentalism, primarily to help educate the public of mental health issues. Dr. Ballon is a sought-after speaker for national and international meetings. He has also has acted as a consultant for many healthcare professional organizations in regard to addiction and mental-health issues. He has written books for children, parents, and the general public on youth and family health issues. Dr. Ballon is considered an expert in the area of simulation and experiential interactive techniques. Dr. Ballon has been a consultant and advisor to a variety of media-related activities including television, plays, novels and film productions to help create accurate portrayals of psychiatric and addiction elements. He has also created games dealing with mental-health and addiction issues that have garnered him awards from the Games Manufacturers Association and international literary and academic associations. He is also an illusionist who performs magic and mentalism, as well as collaborates and consults for professional magicians around the world.