The future is a strange and wonderful place and I love living here.
I gotta say, though, dudes, I’m sort of glad that I’ve already done my child rearing and did it a bit earlier when there wasn’t all this futuretech around to tempt me and the little dudes.
This subject came to occupy a bit too much of my brain lately when I started noticing a bunch of commercials and suchlike designed to sell parents on the idea of either loaning a tablet to a little dude or buying one for her to have all her own dudette self.
Let me get one thing out of the way first. I am no Luddite. I don’t automatically reject new technology as dangerous or evil. I’m not the type to say that the way we did it when I was a kid was good enough and that’s the way it should always be done. I mean, if you’ve been around here more than 17 seconds or so, I’m pretty sure you’ll understand when I say I’m a technological neophile of the first order.
(Admittedly, I’m not a neophile across the board, as my wife, known to me as She Who Must Be Frustrated That I’m Not Willing To Paint Over The Appalling Mural In Our Bathroom, will happily attest at full volume given half the chance.)
Technology here in the future is a wonderful thing. I love having my smart phone. I love having my iPad mini and all the rest of the little tech goodies I carry around each day or lust for in my heart.
But little dudes, though. . . That’s a tough one. I mean, when Sarcasmo and Zippy the Monkey Boy were very young, I used to alternate weekend days to get up early with them. (Sadly, Sarcasmo was the type to awaken at zerosixhundred no matter how late he went to bed.) Both their mom and I would stagger into the boys’ room, get them out of bed, feed them and then pop in a Winnie the Pooh video, drop to the couch and pass right out for as long as they’d let us.
And that was when there was nothing interactive to hold the interest of the little dudes. These days, there’s slates that will talk back to the kids, encourage them, call them by name. I can see how this could be very difficult to put down. I also can see how a lot of parents would find it so much easier to simply hand over a slate to their kid and let ’em rip, giving the parent more time to 1) sleep or 2) work.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has already issued warnings that young dudes and dudettes shouldn’t have very much screen time, especially when they’re in the deuce and under crowd.
The problem as I see it is that these tablets are so darn convenient. The little dudes love them and will become immersed with the flip of a button. And there’s just enough of the good sort of app out there that many parents will feel comfortable letting their little dudette have hours and hours on the slate screen.
From personal experience, I know that — even when you keep a sharp eye on your young dudes and their computer/tablet/screen time — the determined young dude will find ways to indulge curiosity and desire. And do it for far more time than is conceivably good for him or her.
Despite the convenience, despite the quiet time it gives us as parents, consider shutting down the screen. For instance, I just yesterday purchased a pair of stilts. Mostly because I intend to show Hyper Lad that it is possible to have fun without pushing a button or shooting someone with paint balls.
Yeah, it’s probably too late for my young dudes, but I feel like it’s something I have to do. Maybe it’s not too late to change some habits in yours.