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We may bemoan annoying cell phone ringtones in public spaces or the dull glow of screens lighting up the faces of transfixed users in theaters, restaurants, classrooms or coffeehouses, but our increasing connection to each other and our community through digital devices could save lives.This lost boy was found in debris in his backyard Wednesday, April 9, after several hours of searching.

In the late afternoon on Wednesday, April 9, the Cottonwood Police Department issued an urgent request to help find an 8-year-old boy reported missing near Ninth and Aspen streets in Cottonwood.

The boy had disappeared from his home around 2:30 p.m. following an argument with his mother, according to police.

The press release came into our newsroom after 5 p.m., after most of our staff had gone home for the day. However, thanks to the increasingly interconnected nature of modern electronic networks and social media, the release got forwarded to our cell phones and digital devices and we posted the story to both our websites — redrocknews.com and journalaz.com — a few minutes later. The story also appeared on the Sedona Red Rock News Facebook page.

The boy was found after 6 p.m., hiding from police and searchers in a pile of debris in his own backyard. As the Cottonwood police notified us and other media outlets around 6:30 p.m., we updated the story on our websites and removed the story from our Facebook page so that Verde Valley residents on the lookout could call off the search.

Had the boy been lost miles away from home or injured, readers-turned-searchers likely could have found him far sooner than a traditional coordinated search operation.

Our world is growing smaller and faster as we use technology to stay connected to each other. News sites and social media allow us to connect with next-door neighbors as well as with friends across the globe.

As a small-town newspaper, we post news stories, feature stories, editorials and other elements of our print newspapers on our websites and Facebook page, as well as using our Twitter account to notify followers of web updates.

Readers can post comments to our news stories and my editorials, see themselves and their neighbors in our People on the Street section on Facebook, and view photo galleries of major events shot by our photojournalists that we don’t have enough space for in our print edition, such as hundreds of photos from the recent St. Patrick’s Parade and the B-17 “Sentimental Journey” visit to the Sedona Airport. Our breaking news alerts inform readers about major car crashes, wildfires and missing children.

Connect with us online at Facebook.com/SedonaNews or @SedonaNews on Twitter and stay informed about what’s happening in our community.


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