I’m starting to wonder if technology may well be the false friend we’ve seen in the movies. It’s shiny and compact, accessible and always on, and slowly but surely taking hold of our lives. If you think this isn’t so, think about the last time you found yourself without a cell phone? And did you go back for it?
Look around any waiting room or restaurant holding area and you’ll see people of a particular age all checking those smartphones — being in touch and up to date is everything. It’s the older generation who are indifferent to the wealth of technology to be had, they paved the way for it but are immune to its lure.
It came to five years too late for them.
What brought this to mind was a piece I just saw on technology ruining childhood. As a parent of three tech savvy kids I have ample experience with this. They know things I don’t — they had the internet not encyclopedias, we watched the moon landing on a portable TV, they watch DVDs as part of the curriculum. They’ve grown up in a world where texting your friends takes the place of talking on the phone or hanging out under the basketball net until the streetlights came on.
It is a very different world.
These days the things some kids put on Facebook, Instagram and the like will chill you to the bone. Has the exposure to the non face-to-face interaction of our technology stripped children of emotion and conscience, or were those already lost and technology gave them the means to share this with the world? No one has the answer, I certainly don’t.
All I can say to parents of toddlers and young children is be involved in their lives. Don’t make technology a babysitter, but don’t be afraid of it either. Children don’t have to (and shouldn’t) be your everything, but you do have a responsibility to the children you’ve brought into this world, to protect, guide and help them manage until they’re old enough to do for themselves.