Technology… More Like Tech-NO-logy

Recently, I started thinking if Paps and I would be doing our children a disservice by not allowing them to get use to using electronics.  Like, would it make them the equivalent of someone who is an illiterate adult once they get to college?  And I’m not just talking, using Word or Excel…Paint– I’m talking technology; X-box, Playstation, Wii-U, tablets, smartphones, Google Glass, Twitter, Tumblr,  FB (or whatever comes out by the time they’re able to grasp the concept of social media).

*Note*

I’m so disheveled by this topic, it may be hard for me to keep focus

More and more do I become more conflicted with the issue of technology and children.

I am a technician by trade. I L-O-V-E tech stuff. I love gidgets, gadgets, thingamabobs, new internet stuff, apps, media sources, social sites, new gaming devices, warfare items, space stuff… whatever it is, I’m interested and I want to play with it.  That had to start somewhere… and it did.  It started while I was in the 3rd grade when we had these old Apple Macintosh SE Desktop Computers that had 2 colors on them, green and greener, on a screen relative to the size of cell phones now…  I took an after school class to learn DOS manipulation.  However, the functions that a 9-year-old could do at that time were very elementary.  Shit, personal computers were a practically brand new technology, and I know I’m showing my age but that’s what it was.

But I loved that stuff because of the newness of it, and not so much of the addiction to the automatic functionality that it gave to society. I was playing with what would soon be the future. I was learning to manipulate with my own hands, a device that would soon be the most important thing in the world… literally.

But that’s not the case with the technology of today. If we give a child an iPad, it’s not because we’re trying to teach him coding. If we sit our children down with the newest Samsung Galaxy playing Spongebob on YouTube, I’m sure it’s not for the purposes of learning animation or how to use Final Cut Pro.  No… we’re numbing them, and trying to catch a quiet moment.

I GET IT… believe me I do.

Electronics have turned into that special sedative comparable to Valiums or marijuana for children.  It relaxes them, and shuts them up for at least 10 minutes so mommy or daddy can take a poop in peace.  It frees up time that parents feel they keep losing in order to make a decent dinner, or even quiet the drive to Auntie Sabrina’s house or home from school.

But it can’t be the only way to raise our kids now.

More and more am I seeing posts on Facebook or hear people say that their 2-year-olds are showing them how to use devices.  Parents are complaining that they can’t get smartphones and tablets out of their kids hands without a 30 minute cry-fest, and then end up “compromising” with the child in order to keep the peace.  Parents are fed up with the constant usage of technological appliances, yet they still supply their children with them because it’s practically necessary to.

It’s a catch-22.

One of my good friends was chit-chatting with me a little over a year ago, telling me he had to buy his daughter a new laptop so she can do her school work.  Said that she kept using his, and taking his to school, so she needed her own.  At the time she was 12, and I was dumbfounded.  The childless-baffled-me was confused, and revolted against the thought of him buying a 12-year old a computer… but he then told me “All the kids need them in class… that’s just how it is…”

REALLY?!?!

Maybe a part of me is happy that children are learning computers so soon because we live in the age of technology, and there’s is nothing more pathetic than a grown ass person confessing they don’t know how to “email;” but there’s a downfall to this.  I just heard on the radio the other day from a teacher that spelling isn’t nearly as important anymore  [compared to math] because we have spell checkers and auto-correct…  … … … …

I’m sorry… what was that?

You’re telling me that we’ve succumb to technology so much, that we are allowed to be dumber in certain areas, and that’s ok…?

The seeming downfall of the quality of education isn’t my only issue.  Here’s another one: Technology is destroying the Family Dynamic.

The same friend in the needing-the-laptop-situation above and I were in Korea together, and we sat in a restaurant and watched dozens of families setup their kids favorite shows on the phone and commence to eating their meals with no family interaction.  Kids would wander by themselves in shopping malls glued to the large 5.7 inch screen, unknowingly walking a little further and further from the parent, or even left for minutes at a time sitting on a bench or an unattended stroller.  Now before you start to judge the Korean’s… look around.  This is happening in America too.  There is an unhealthy dependency on technology for the wrong reasons.  Instead of making a phone call, we shoot a text.  If the house is too big for voice to carry, we shoot a text.  Phones are picked up in mid-conversation to check social statuses, or celebrity gossip updates, twitter feeds, pictures of Instagramed food… and we think nothing of it.

Sure I’m happy that I don’t need to open a  Thomas Guide anymore for directions… But I do appreciate knowing HOW to read a Thomas guide.

Sure I’m happy I don’t need to worry about remembering telephone numbers, addresses, birth dates, appointments, snack time, or classwork due dates… but if I ever left my phone at home, I might be in a little hot water for the day.

Sure I’m happy that if I need to know daily news, weather, big news stories, how to train a dog, who has a better spaghetti, or whatever I need to know, it’s all at my finger tips… but is this sense of immediacy and urgency what we should teach our kids?  There was a time that if I wanted to know about The War of 1812, I had to look in Encyclopedias, or go to a library… And I was able to learn, and better yet, retain factual knowledge from accredited sources.

But now we have Wikipedia.

You know I made a Wikipedia page once.  It’s down now, but I tried to get “willn’t,” the TRUE contraction of will not to become a thing.  It was up for like 3 months before it was discredited…

Google has taken over learning.  TMZ and “Huffington Post top 10 Reasons to…” has taken over factual media… and this is all because of the immediacy for self-gratification of knowledge and entertainment.  Our children are addicted to World Star Hip-Hop, Snapchat, Vine, Kik Messenger, and ASk.fm (some of these you should really monitor if you haven’t heard about them).

I’m guilty of all this… I am not on a high horse here.

The last point I want to touch on is the fact that technology has had a major role in the disengagement of social development.  A lot of the above sites mentioned allow anonymity.  Nobody needs a name, nobody needs a face… nobody needs a conscience, and nobody needs  manners.  Social etiquette is slowly being lost.  Firm handshakes, eye contact, yes sir, please and thank you are slowly becoming a thing of the past.  We’re losing that ideal that self-assertion by getting off of your ass and meeting people with a physical introduction, and understanding that social charisma will get you far in life… That needs to be learned.  “Friends” are now game-tags via X-box live, or hot chicks by way of selfie on Instagram.  “Friends” numbers are in the thousands on our social media pages, and people mistake that for actual social acceptance.  People have started to forget how to actually interact with each other, and maybe hold a conversation without snapping a picture of your Chai Iced Latte in the middle of my sentence about the job I just lost…

But again… no high horse here… guilty

So I’ll try to sum up my wandering rant into these statements:

1)  I fear where technology is going and how involved we are with it and how comfortable kids are with it, as much as I’m intrigued and fascinated by it.

2) I already loathe the fact that at some point I too, will be the parent that gives in to buy my kid some form of the newest technology, even though at this point in my life I have a strong stance against it.

3) I must take action within my parenting morals to not let this brainless epidemic control my household

and

4) I must set the standard by being the example… I believe that’s the only way to combat the fight against technology use in the house.

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Posted in Did He Really Just Say That?, Getting Ready, Parenthoodwith 15 comments.

Comments

  • Vael Victus says:

    I’ve read this in its entirety. I’m happy to see a self-aware parent considering the role of technology. I bought a “leap pad” for my 2-year-old and within time I found I was using it as a crutch and he was becoming antisocial whenever it was around. The day I took it from him nearly permanently was the day I came home, said hello, was ignored, and when I went to hug him he was busy with a game and told me to “go away”. That was about it; he learned to turn the TV on and I hid the remotes. I think it’s in regulation that you’ll find your answer. Really, the Leap Pad was an amazing tool and taught him so much… I gave it to him a bit young, and I shouldn’t have let him have it as often as I did.

    Just some things to consider. Certainly don’t be afraid of buying a PS3 or letting them onto the internet, but regulated interaction with these devices is what’s key to your desired parenting style, I think you’ll be a great dad from what I read here.

    • Thank you so much for your comment Vael.

      The key word I keep hearing is moderation. It really seems to be a common theme with everything… food, tv, single friends….

      I know I need to set a standard for myself before I set a standard for my son. We went to a prenatal class that taught us we should’nt have the kid in front of a tv for the first 2 years at least. Well obviously that was her preference… because I can’t ask my wife to sit in a lonesome room while she breastfeeds every 2 hours with nothing to do while the rest of us are enjoying a game or something…

      This technology talk will be a big factor in my life always.

      Thank you for taking the time to read this and respond!

      Robett

  • Max says:

    I think that Technology should never be a substitute for Time. Technology will help you teach your child that would have been unheard of in our youth. It should be used to entertain in moderation. We try to have the boys play with educational toys and use educational electronics as well as watch educational television. Then we still make time to read to them, Shirley makes time to teach them by using books and letter/number magnets. We have wooden clocks and flashcards because that can be done in conjunction with electronics or modern technology. You both know I’m a techno-nerd but I still understand the value of spending time with the boys and not have them just sit in front of a TV. Don’t ever be afraid to welcome your child into new technology as long as you are there to guide their growth. I know my children will be smarter than me, since it has nothing to do with genes, but just the knowledge and understanding of how they learn. Dumbing down is a result of lazy parenting in my opinion. The parents that took advantage of the influx of new information rocketed their children’s ability to learn faster. Of course once the children get older than it will depend more on their desire than your guidance, BUT by then if you spent enough time to teach and understand your child, they will have surprised you and surpassed your expectations. That’s what I am going for anyway lol

    • Great point Max. I wrote this as a rebuttal to someone saying something similar on the blog;

      “However, you can’t always be involved. And it’s when they start using the technology behind your back that problems happen right? That’s why shows and documentaries like Catfish, and to catch a predator are actually a thing.

      Kids are losing scholarships and not being accepted into jobs for pictures they’ve posted on Facebook in their youth.

      I completely understand what you’re saying and I do agree with you, but looking at it from the other side (which I tend to do often), technology has created a landslide of downfall for social aspects, even if it had improved medical, health, and business aspects…

      Can we agree there?”

      But I do agree with you on the PRO’S of Technology… I do… believe me I do… It’s the Con’s that get me

      • Max says:

        The con’s you listed are out of your control. Manage the things in your control and prepare for the things that aren’t. That’s the best you can do.

        • ARE THEYYYYYYYYY……??????

          • Max says:

            I CONTROL THEM! NOT YOU!

          • Lorenzo McNulty says:

            Boy this escalated quickly..

            I think you’re both making valid points both Pro and Con. I’m a firm believer in balance. There will always be the inherent limit of everything a parent allows their child to be engaged in. I have seen the difference in my kids – “Z” with an introduction to an iPhone at the age of 1 and her older sister at the age of 7. I don’t like to compare my kids but lets be honest here for a moment. (Judge if you need to. There are also other factors such as two-parent household, demographic, and parenting style/interaction at play here.) When you talk to my oldest who is now 10, and “Z” who is now 4, you will clearly see “Z” is the better communicator of the two. Is that technology at play? I’d say yes to a degree but we have read a book to her every night since I can remember. They are also in different states and educational systems. “K”, my oldest daughter, loves the mini laptop and her phone. “Z’s”choice 97.4% of the time would be the Ipad. Her view into technology has kept her abreast (ha.. breast) of the technological advances and she realizes that the iPhone isn’t the pinnacle of tech these days. There is an advantage there. The cons are heavily on “Z” though. With access comes knowledge and sometimes that knowledge is greater than the mind is prepared to handle. So that’s where we are all suited up in our superhero and heroin parent costumes trying to keep her protected from the things that can reach her without her realizing they are harmful. “K”, with little access, not as much.

            not spell checking because.. screw you grammar nazi thats why!

  • megan says:

    I used to let Vivien use apps on my phone but I got tired of it so now she has a Leappad. Im cool with that and limit screen time to car rides and when I’m breastfeeding her brother.
    And she only gets to watch 1 hr of sesame street a day. Because I got real housewives to watch, yo. 😉
    Jk.

  • Bryan says:

    I don’t think technology is evil or should be avoided.

    I think tech like all things can be good if used as a tool by an involved parent. Our society uses tech. Knowledge of how to use that will be as important in the future. You wouldn’t not teach you kid to walk because they may fall, but also wouldn’t let them walk off a cliff or through a construction site.

    The secret to tech is moderation and supervision. Something that may be needed for the adults in the family too.

    • Great points Bryan!

      However, you can’t always be involved. And it’s when they start using the technology behind your back that problems happen right? That’s why shows and documentaries like Catfish, and to catch a predator are actually a thing.

      Kids are losing scholarships and not being accepted into jobs for pictures they’ve posted on Facebook in their youth.

      I completely understand what you’re saying and I do agree with you, but looking at it from the other side (which I tend to do often), technology has created a landslide of downfall for social aspects, even if it had improved medical, health, and business aspects…

      Can we agree there?

      • Bryan says:

        I agree about the dangers. But I believe (naively?) I can raise my kids not to make those bone headed decisions. Talk about the dangers and prepare them for them. Let them learn to use it correctly in front of me so they will make good decisions away from me. I don’t want them to be figuring it out away from me where I can’t stop them from doing something stupid.

        Also for the child is repeatedly throwing fits to use the tech their parents are doing it wrong. Use the tech as a tool not a baby sitter. We let our two year old use our iPad to help develop hand eye coordination after she had some issues and it was a great help.

        – Also please don’t feel I am attacking you. I enjoyed your article and wanted to respond. I’m not worried about you, just that you you are posting this tells me you will warn your kids and help them be smart enough not to do this stuff.

        • Haha Bryan!

          NEVER think you’re attacking me… I write sometimes for the controversy alone. I tend to say things against the grain, and I know the reprucussions of doing it. I mean I wrote a post comparing raising kids to dogs (http://thescareddad.com/does-owning-dogs-prepare-you-for-raising-kids/)… I am well aware not everyone shares my views!

          With that being said, I think you said it best when you wrote “Use the tech as a tool not a baby sitter.” this is the best advice ANY parent can have when it comes to using these devices. And I 1000% agree with that.

          Rob

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