Thursday, 20 March 2014

It's inevitable, isn't it?

As I lay in bed feeding Gracie this morning I gently leaned over and grabbed my phone from under the pillow. My alarm was quietly buzzing away and as I swiped the screen to tell it to shut the heck up I noticed a pair of little eyes staring up at me.  This was followed closely by a tiny hand stretching up to grab the phone from my hand.

I didn't want us to have those kids. The kind that pop out into the world and immediately become addicted to technology. But it's inevitable isn't it?! If a smart phone can already draw the attention of a four month old, while feeding no less, what hope do I have of keeping her sheltered from it all?.  She's already so atune to the visual stimuli that comes in the form of a tv or computer screen, the touch of an iPhone or the pressing of a remote control. Though at the moment I wonder how much of this fascination is about what is happening on the screen and the beautiful bright colours or if she is pondering whether she can fit it in her mouth.  Either way she's already way too clever and I know it won't take her long to figure it all out. 

It's hard to imagine that our children will grow up never knowing a time before the internet, Facebook, smart phones and the digital age. When I was a kid we had one of those old Commodore desktop computers. It didn't even live in the house, instead it held its place in Dad's shed on top of an old filing cabinet full of tools and other Dad stuff.  My Dad held a big, fancy, very technical job in the RAAF and as a result worked with computers all day every day. We inherited the old Commodore second-hand when they were upgrading to Apple Macintoshs on the base. My brother and I loved it, but we had no idea what it's real purpose was. Instead we played with it on a blank black screen, it's neon green cursor flashing away at us, as we pretended we worked in a bank or a newspaper, typing jibberish just to see new letters appear on the screen.  

When the Commodore died we were upgraded to another second-hand beauty, but this time it was a Mac. Like an original Macintosh desktop before they became the IT computer to own. We weren't even hipsters!!  The Mac was even more fun for me and my brother because it actually had a few programs we could use, AND it was moved inside the house!  Our favourite program was called "Say it Sam". It was pretty simple, you typed a word, any word, and Sam would read it back in his robot-like voice. At first we typed our names over and over just to laugh at how he pronounced them. But as we got more confident and cheeky we started typing in naughty words. Bum, poo, fart, willy... All the words we weren't allowed to use ourselves.  You get the idea. Pretty soon Sam became a bit of a potty-mouth and we were only allowed to use him when Mum was in the room. 

I think the modern equivalent of Say it Sam would be Siri. Except she actually does the things you say. I can't tell you how many times I've accidentally held down the home button and activated her by mistake only to end up googling something along the lines of "oh f$@k off Siri!"  Anyhoo, I guess what I'm trying to get at is that the technology we grew up with was quite innocent. I'm sure if Sam had of searched poo or willy as many times as we made him say it the computer would have been taken out the back and set on fire. Now all phones and computers are connected to the internet. Siri doesn't know the difference between me accidentally pressing her buttons and speaking to her and a child doing the same. Our kids will always know what a Siri is, and they'll always know how to use her, even if it's not me who teaches them.  And the internet can be a really scary place. 

Am I naive to think that I can stop the technology bug from spreading?  That I can shelter my kids from things like Xbox online and Facebook when I myself use them in plain sight. Can I stop my children from demanding their first smart phone or tablet at the age of five because their school friends have one and they don't?  I just don't know...


1 comment:

  1. Oh boy I could have written this. I have no idea how to limit technology in the current world we live in. I don't really let my son play with my phone but we do have the TV on a lot. I think it will be all about moderation and setting boundaries. It will be hard until they are old enough to understand those boundaries though. Just do your best.