There was that time
I saw a new mom in Chapters
pressing her cell phone to her infant’s head like a taser gun ~
playing white static noise to put him to sleep.
And felt righteous indignation mixed with horror.
And there was that time
I listened to the impassioned young father declare
that if only he could
he would have a computer chip installed
right into the brain of his 5 year old daughter;
so much better off would she be
with her technology directly imbedded in her head.
And again I felt horror, indignation, superiority.
I could not even begin to understand.
I want to.
Today I want to bite into both sides
of this strangely enchanted Apple
and just see…
maybe I won’t actually die.
The soapbox I call home is the techno-wary world of the techno-minimalist.
Here is my 10 year old daughter on our new (and first ever) i pad.
The reason she can’t even pronounce the word technology is because it is such a foreign concept in our house.
And in her school too, for that matter.
My kids just don’t have exposure to devices, computers, smart phones, ipads, ipods, or video games.
(I let them play with some old walkmans and cassette tapes for a while — that was fun…)
I’m not sharing this as a badge of honour or shame, but as a conversation starter…
My 4 year old calls our new contraption “the pea pod.” He’s drawn a few cool pictures on it. And for someone who’s never touched a device, he figured it out faster than I did.
My 8 year old son has no interest in it at all. Someday I’ll write about all the non-video-game video games Brayden has invented out of string, water, brick, paper, bottle caps, etc.
Yep, I have purposefully kept my kids pretty much pre-1980 when it comes to tech, and I have kept myself as techno-illiterate as long as possible as well.
(When I see something about an icloud pop up I want to pull out my umbrella and run for cover)
Such an interesting feeling — swimming against the tsunami of the world wide web.
Honestly, I have loved every minute of snubbing the virtual dimension and I have no regrets.
But these days, as I’ve been logging more and more time on the computer, launching my own online presence with Parent by Magic, I’ve had no choice but to turn and catch the wave.
Values and actions at odds with each other = cognitive dissonance and it should feel pretty funky. Like, funky bad.
But….have you ever noticed how techno-jolly casts such a warm and consoling welcome that soothes right over any sense of compromise…
I mean, all of us would say our kids are priority #1. We don’t want them to have this picture of us glued to our iphones promising “just a minute, just a minute, I just have to finish this…” as we reluctantly struggle to wrap it up and free our attention to be with them.
Like my daughter pointed out, “I hate it when you’re on the computer mom. It’s like you’re not even here.”
My kids see the dissonance.
They know what I stand for, and they see me love-tapping the keys a little too much lately.
So I want to reckon this thing out.
I’m feeling unusually provoked to turn over my favourite soapbox and inspect it for rot.
Why do I have such a hate-on for technology?
…and is it valid??
Having gathered a ruthless assortment of tools, I am ready to pry apart my techno-phobic soapbox
And maybe even rebuild it into….well, something else made of wood 😉
Either way, I plan to sit inside my flipped-over soap box for a while, so I hope you’ll throw me your two cents on the topic.
What do you think about kids and computers?
(Be brave and respond with your comments at the end!)
If I am willing to admit it,
I think I know why I fight the tech.
It is very likely
that I am afraid of it.
Because a) we tend to fear what we don’t understand and b) because it is just too good, too smooth, too sexy and powerful in all its ways.
I fear its ability to seduce and consume my consciousness, let alone the minds of my kids.
I am wary of how ‘technology immersion’ works like french immersion on supple, young brains.
I have no interest in raising digital natives, where wifi is as intimate as their primary language and data has mated with their neurons, reproducing…. what?
Reproducing minds whose version of reality is saturated with convenience and control.
That’s my fear.
In our family mission statement we have a big clause against Compulsiveness. We do what we can to starve it out of our kids.
So, letting in devices that supply instant gratification and endorphins through the finger tips? Not so much.
Welcoming in silky-smooth apps that train brains to interact with “life” in hyper-speed, slot-machine ways? No thanks.
Looking at myself again, I realize that I actually resent techno-jolly for making life easier.
Or, I resent myself for letting it.
I resent that I do admire the intoxicating sleek of the shiny white apple, so bewitchingly held out to me.
The idea of joining in the mad love affair with technology makes me feel weak, behind, dependent, and bought-off.
I do sincerely hate it, and I do genuinely panic at the thought of handing my children over to it.
That is my confession!
Now that I’ve done my little dance for you…
What do you think?
Am I denying my children their 21st century birthright? After all, what’s wrong with a little supervised, balanced, middle-of-the-road acquiescence and submission to the machine, right? Everybody’s doing it!
Will our austerity measures and techno-deprivation backfire in the end? Will they struggle like cavemen lightyears behind their peers, embarrassed they can’t even make Mario jump on a mushroom?
I personally doubt it.
But I am willing to wonder.
I am willing to be wrong.
“Which is a really big deal….for me”
(as the little clown fish says)
it’s not about the apple.
It’s about the crate.
You see, I have had my days standing on the corner soapbox-dancing, waving self-righteous arms around.
I have had my days judging blue streaks up and down many a toddler’s poor mama when I’ve seen the iphone in the ‘wrong’ hands.
And I have had those bloodiest of days — being the gladiator mother bear — when I have torn most deeply at the ones I love because they do things differently.
Let’s face it, Parenting is that kind of arena.
Doesn’t matter if it’s technology, immunization, food choice, or any other nuance of this choose-your-own-parenting-style adventure, there is this to-the-death fervor that rages at times.
Why do we get so riled up?
Because we care so much.
Because to be ‘wrong’ in this arena = we’re messing up our kids.
Which feels worse than death.
It’s a primal thing.
And for me — I am also realizing — it is a tribal matter.
Pulling others to my side means they will be with me, in my tribe, we will all be together, (sing it) “and the world will be as one.”
That’s what I want.
But my tribe-gathering impulse has been more divisive than not because unifying parents around an extreme only entrenches the smugness of “we who know better.”
Which is why, at this stage of the game, I’m calling for a new crusade.
As a recovering zealot myself, I feel particularly qualified to call on the revolution!
I am inviting ALL OF US to overturn our soapboxes, and…
take an apple,
leave an apple,
profess your undying love for Apple…
Whether you’re techno-jolly,
a die-hard technophobe,
or one of those blessedly balanced folks —
whatever your bent,
I invite you to speak, share, and taste without fear of poison.
Parent by Magic is about many things
and one of them is this:
Creating a different tribe – a borderless tribe – of parents
who are “taking it to the Soapbox” in a new way ~
With humble, rugged tools of re-construction
To hold new ideas and open space.
Equanimity is the new enchanted apple.
In this fairy tale tribe we don’t ask “who’s the fairest.”
We offer only pure and wholesome fare ~ wisdom untainted by judgement.
Is such a thing possible?
Click to join the revolution, and find out!
Click on the old woman if you’re on board!
And don’t forget to leave your comments
& spread the word with a hearty fb share!