A visiting religious leader is concerned that the Internet and social media have become “the first and second parents” of today’s children.
“Parents have allowed the technology to take over the role they should have been playing. They put the children in front of the TV or computer to keep them quiet, exposing them to horror movies, porn and other negative influences, since it is less harassment for them and less work,” lamented Pastor Clive Dottin of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church.
As a result, he said, society was now faced with what sociologists refer to as “post problem communication”.
“[This is] where parents only talk in a meaningful way with their children if their daughter becomes pregnant or their son gets involved with illegal drugs. And then they tell the children how disappointed they are in them,” Dottin told Barbados TODAY.
The Trinidadian pastor, here for a crusade at Thorpes, St James, sought to compare the situation today with that in the 1970s, which he described as an era of missed opportunity for the region.
“The seventies were a very controversial time with lots of changes coming about, and I don’t think we capitalized on the gains of that era,” Dottin said.
“Apart from that, young people faced emerging new technology, and with the world becoming more of a global village, new age values and the promotion of alternative lifestyles meant the world became more liberal, and this created a vacuum because traditional Christian values were pushed aside and nothing substantial was introduced to fill the void,” he added.
However, while describing social media as “a monster we cannot control now, because we have let the horse bolt out of the stable”, he still saw some positives arising out of its development.
Citing a recent case in Dominica where police officers shot and killed an innocent young man, the pastor said police were only able to get to the bottom of the story because “they filmed how he [the victim] was shot and it showed the police account was inaccurate, and we are using this to seek justice for his death”.
Looking at the wider issue of crime in the region, Dottin, who currently serves as a senator in the Keith Rowley administration, and who has spent the past 37 years working with disadvantaged youth, suggested that community policing was an important tool to rescue young people.
However, he said “one of the problems we have is that law enforcement agencies, as well as the Church, do not see it [community policing] as real work.”
Youth empowerment also forms part of the current evangelistic campaign in Barbados.
Coordinator of the event Pastor Dayle Haynes explained that a segment of the programme was dedicated to young people. In addition, 20 young men from the targeted area were being trained in the area of construction and will receive certification from the University of the Southern Caribbean upon completion of the course.