Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Children and Technology: OMG!

My boyfriend's son spent Oscar Sunday with us.

Son- "So, did you ever work on movie sets?"
Me- "Yes I did."
Son- "Did you ever meet any famous people, or celebrities?"
Me- "Sure."
Son- "Like who?"
Me- “Cindy Lauper.”
Son- "Who?"

And curtain.

I barely acknowledged his comment. I was too busy shaking my head and rolling my eyes in judgement. And since there wasn’t a follow up that I would’ve been proud of, like, “Cindy Lauper? Golly gee, Girlfriend Mom, who was she and what were the circumstances in which you met her?” He was over it and me, illustrated by the furious fingering on his iTouch. We moved on.

Actually he moved on. I began contemplating the assault on America's youth by those stupid ass smart phones. Smart? Well, ain’t that ironic, don't you think? Those devices are breeding unintelligent, desensitized Tweens, Pre-teens and Teens. And let's throw in young adults for good measure. I’m around kids now so they’re under my microscope.

I’ve learned that the type of kid using these gadgets has nothing to do with socioeconomics, politics, sophistication (or there lack of) education (or there lack of) or what color their house is. It's an epidemic and it disturbs me. But why does it disturb me? I don’t have kids (that I know about) so why should I care? I believe we’re in this together, living in the same civilized society and we affect each other. So, I care.

I may lose a few of you on this one but I blame the parents. And before you have a conniption, I’m not addressing every single parent out there. You know who I’m talking to. Be honest. Who's buying the iPhone, iPad, iTouch, iPod, Wii, Xbox Kinect, and PSP for their adorable eight year old geniuses? My brother for one. Don’t worry, he’s felt my wrath privately.

Who allows texting at the dinner table or at a restaurant? Who succumbs to the old tried and true, "Yeah, but Jeremy (or Justine) has one. I'll be the only kindergartener who doesn't have an iPad. Why do you hate me?!"

I tried this with my parents. Often. We all did. You know what their response was? "Terrific, ask Justine's parents if they'll adopt you. I'll pack your bags myself and drive you right over."

My brother and I did not get everything we asked for. My parents were willing to have us hate them, rather than giving in every time we asked for something. I respect them for not succumbing to parental peer pressure. Oh, and I did hate them. I think what some parents don’t understand is that, the hatred passes. Saying no to your child can’t be easy, but sometimes you have to be the grown up.

I've heard parents defend their purchases with, "What choice do we have? All the kids have the iPhone and little Joachim (or Josephine) can't be the only ones who don’t." Yes they can. When you take a good hard look at the situation, your decision to get little Chesterfield or Cayenne whatever gadget they HAVE to have, it’s about YOU. It's about your fear of not keeping up with the proverbial Jones's (and who are these people, because they are so culpable) and not wanting to be the bad guy in the eyes of your offspring.

Nut up and say no. Why do you care what Mr. and Mrs. Jones is getting Horatio or Penelope for Hanukkah? As a wise friend once told me, "Keep your eyes on your own paper." And as Elvis sang in his 1969 hit, Clean Up Your Own Backyard: “You tend to your business, I'll tend to mine”

Because really, what message are you sending to your children? What happens when they grow up and get out there in the big bad world and they want something because their college roommate has it? Or one of their co-workers at their first adult job has it? Now they can't afford it because mom and dad are no longer footing the bill. Then what? Where does the ‘I want’, ‘I want’, ‘I have to have’, ‘But I need it’ end?

Having things handed to you every time you ask for it, is instant gratification, and it is never ever lasting. Ever! Anybody who’s experienced this (yours truly) or is the least bit spiritual, knows it's never as fulfilling as earning it. And before you jump down my throat (again) I'm not talking about gifts, or giving on special occasions, or even on a whim. I'm talking about what the consciousness is behind the giving.

What about kids now leading more sedentary lives because they’re playing the Wii, or sexting, or uploading pictures onto Facebook. ADD? ADHD? How can we expect OUR kids to pay attention? Can they carry on conversations without abbreviating words? Can they write using a pen? Can they verbally express themselves without a gadget in their hand?

It’s not an all or nothing, one way or the other proposition. I know this. I care about my boyfriend's kids, who are kind, smart and funny. However, just like I never would’ve believed that watching television hours upon hours (thank you very much MTV premiere 1981) would be bad for me, they can’t possibly understand the affect that their behaviors today might have in their futures.

Therefore, I'm installing some changes in the house when they visit. You see, I don’t have any problem saying no. As a matter of fact, I kind of enjoy it. AND I don’t mind if they hate me, because I know that it’ll pass, and they’ll thank me later.


lbw said...

yikes...kinda like my people not knowing the group Squeeze!

Dani said...

That's intolerable! xoxxo