Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Kids these days...

Really, I should call it "Parents these days...." I am sending out warning flares right now that this will not be kind. But some of you have gotten used to that kind of post once in awhile.

I'm sure these are very nice people, but they need to nix the ipad for the kid.

The two boys are on phones and Ipad - and who knows what Dad is looking at?
This is not nice of me, I know, but I think the problem is bigger than my being nice.

Lee and I were at dinner tonight at a perfectly nice restaurant (not fancy, but great outdoor dining on this most perfect of days.) Lee points to a table next to us by tipping his head and eyes in their direction. It was a family of four with two little boys, probably aged 18 months and 3. The 3 year old sat at dinner the whole time with an IPAD on a stand. I am not kidding.

I looked around and at another adjacent table was a family of four, also with two boys, probably ages 3 and 4. BOTH of them were on machines. One on a phone and one on an IPAD.

I'm guessing this is not even what Steve Jobs would have wanted. I thought about the time we have spent in Europe. And in a million years, I can 't imagine seeing a child in Europe at a table with a piece of technology. Eating is a social ritual, not a private event.

Here's my background. Lee is a Waldorf teacher, knows a great deal about child development and is a speaker on the harmful effects of technology on the developing brain. He feels passionately about the topic. I never allowed my now 27-year old son to own a video game - (Oh, that was easy!  for a kid born in 1986.) I also sent my kids to Waldorf where a whole big bunch of us agreed technology is not a tool for children. It is a tool for adults. Including TV.

This was the single-handedly smartest thing I ever did for my kids and I say that with perspective because they are 27 and 24. Izzy doesn't own a TV today - never has. I don't think Zan does either, but maybe his roomies have one. Not sure. It's sure not the way they spend their days. Izzy is in a book club at 24, always reading something. Zan just works a lot and hangs out with friends, runs, plays b-ball and reads a bit, too. He watches the occasional Vikings game and other seminal sporting events.

So that's my approach to parenting, and here's my criticism of parents who let little children have technology. And yes, I said CRITICISM. I have FOUR arguments here.

1. They know not what they do. What parent would say, gee, let me limit my child's brain development by putting them in front of a machine? No parent would do that if they knew. But many many many many parents are lazy parents! And that drives me crazy. They don't learn about what a child needs. They are sheep and follow some inane marketing schtick, buying into the "coolness" of technology for your kid. it is NOT COOL. It is actually really harmful to a developing mind and I am very curious...why is no one talking about this? I said to Lee..."It's like cigarettes in the 1920s - who knew then? By the '70s, you couldn't pretend you didn't know. They had everyone addicted and it was too late and deadly." I honestly think that is what technology is to a child's. (ADHD, Aspergers, Autism,  blah, blah, blah...)

2. Now, here's the second problem. How does a child learn to be civilized and sit at a table and eat with others and use a napkin and silverware and learn to have a conversation if everyone has their nose in the screen. Who would want to date these people when they grow up?

3. Next, it is the end of rapport among families. No longer is Dad or Mom asking, "How was your day, honey?" Or, "let me tell you a cool thing that happened today." This is lazy, lazy parenting. And very sad when you choose to give up time talking together to spend it with a machine. Besides. it is just bad manners. And why would a parent teach their child bad manners? Really? Why? I seriously don't get this.

I am not a luddite. Lee and I sit with our laptops after morning coffee - AFTER TALKING TO EACH OTHER AS IN A CONVERSATION / DIALOGUE. We read the paper online. But no one should pull out a phone or an Ipad and use it at the dinner table unless it is an emergency and you excuse yourself. But bad manners are not illegal. Just annoying.

4. So after all the bitching, here's the sad part...I kind of think this is leading to some kind of new lower / under class. These kids are not getting a proper education - including social / cultural education and development of the imagination they need to compete in this ridiculously competitive world. The imagination is unique to human development, but not cultivated when a machine makes the pictures instead of the child's mind. They won't have that bank of cultural knowledge that everyone needs and inhales by reading - literature. These children will themselves be "a comedy of errors" - unable to participate at the highest levels of civilization, with appreciation for imagination, myth and metaphor. It is hard work to be a part of a society and feel good about your place in it. Interacting with human beings in the world is a much more challenging experience than interacting with a machine.

This hurts our children. This isn't mundane and inert. This hurts them.

The perfect segue...I'm nagging Lee like crazy to do a talk on this in the fall.

1 comment:

  1. I would LOVE for Lee to speak about this "hot" topic. There are a lot of parents that think media/tv is the best thing for their children, not understanding how harmful it really is or knowing what their children are missing out on. The photos you snapped make me very sad. What a great entry AS!