My wife and I got into a discussion about the use of electronics by our children, ostensibly due to my youngest daughter’s upcoming birthday and my desire to buy her an iPod touch. Well, not actually what “old timers” would call a discussion, we were texting each other from about 45 miles away, which is very ironic given the topic. Veronica was against the idea, understandably given what is going on with kids and electronics in the world today. It seems wherever you go you can see a young child or teen with some form of electronics (sometimes running into walls while walking), and it is easy to see why any parent would be reluctant to introduce such mind-numbing distractions. Not to mention the costs of getting that broken nose fixed, most people today are oblivious to the world around them when using electronics, with rubbernecking at an accident on the highway replaced with texting about it and good sound family discussion being replaced with texting and an occasional grunt when asked “how was your day dear?” So I get it. How on earth could any parent buy their 6-year old an electronic device that captures their attention better than any explosion could?
Yet, how can you not?
My goal here was not to gift a device that would be used as a new-age version of a pacifier. It would not be turned over to my 6-year old with the intention of allowing it to absorb her mind like the sponge we have seen so often. It would not be to hand it to her at dinner so she could ignore her family. It would not be used in a way that would allow her to miss the world between points A and points B. It would not be used in place of good, sound parenting to teach the boundaries of living in our society. Rather, I see it as a way to teach exactly all of those things and allow good parenting to occur. When I see a person of any age (myself included) so engrossed in their electronic device that they cannot tell you what they had for dinner five minutes ago it does cause the cursory shaking of my head. When I see an man across the restaurant texting away while his wife is telling him about her day only to realize that the “man” is a mirror I completely understand where my wife is coming from. When I see a kid so engrossed in a video game at the dinner table that she can’t even eat her dinner I get it. Hold on a second…
…what did you say dear? Sorry, I was typing on my computer. Sweetie, you there? I guess she’ll text me.
Anyway, my goal in getting the iPod touch was multifarious (a fancy word I learned on my computer). First, I think she would love the games I put on it. Second, a kid today without a great working knowledge of modern electronics can’t set up my home entertainment system for free, which is a travesty in any household (of course the trick would be getting them away from their games long enough to do the work). Third, it would allow us to parent her and teach her boundaries when using the iPod, something that was certainly not available to us considering my parents would still view pocket calculators as “those new fangled contraptions”. What I see in kids and adults today isn’t the fault of the technology, but the fault of parents or of those who are responsible to teach boundaries. You know, boundaries? “Don’t put your hand on the stove Michael”, or “Don’t climb on the table Gianna”, or “Tom, blah blah blah blah” (I am, after all, still typing on my computer). It isn’t the kid’s or the technology’s fault when that kid is handed a video game at dinner and allowed to play with it throughout the entire dinner without ever coming up for air. It isn’t the kid’s fault that you have to call them 50 times because they can’t hear anything but the beeps coming from the screen. It isn’t the kid’s fault that they miss the entire world around them because the are trying to get Mario to a new universe. It isn’t the kids fault he loves to write on his computer (I think I just heard something about the need to evacuate…nah, that must have been the PS3 game going on in the living room).
The fault lies solely on the shoulders of those whose job it is to be parents. It’s the fact that we aren’t teaching and that we aren’t parenting that causes kids to walk into walls. So, my fear is that when my daughter gets to the age my wife deems appropriate for such games, she will not have the necessary skills to put the damn thing down to enjoy what matters (or to learn that getting to Level 1,000,443 does not) nor the knowledge that what those around her are trying to say is more important that Mario jumping to an alternative universe. I can almost hear the arguments now between two stubborn females…one not understanding the beauty of the game and the other not understanding the beauty of the world around her as the veil of Nintendo cascades down upon the world she used to see. So I believe we teach her now so that when the veil does come down around her she can easily blow it to one side to see beyond it, even if Micheal and I would certainly get a kick out of the “female” discussion. I guess the question still is in me that wasn’t really addressed in the discussion (I reread the texts and I am SURE it wasn’t). How can we teach her the place this technology should have in her life if we don’t get her the technology and introduce it into her life? If we don’t, she will only learn from the examples of her peers, something that scares me more than any iPod ever will.
The man in the mirror is laughing at me right now. Damn him and his judgmental ways. I had better go now before my wife unplugs the compu…
The views expressed here are not indicative of any one person or set of events. Any resemblance to real events is either coincidental or simply in your own mind. Get over it, if this angers you, you probably need to talk to the person in the mirror. ALWAYS READ THE FINE PRINT!!
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