I know writing this might not make me the coolest kid at the lunch table. I know many of you may not agree with me on this. But I want to discuss it, anyway.
I don’t think young children should have access to smartphones or tablets. My kids do not have access, and I plan to shelter them from all things digital as long as humanly possible (until, like, first grade, when every kid is handed a tablet).
Now, I neither knock nor deny the positive impact technology has had on our society. There are economic, educational, organizational, and even humanitarian benefits. Some of the most significant advancements in medicine have been in concert with developments in the digital world. And I support that.
What I’m not fine with is the impact digital life has had on the social level. Here’s the thing: We are so enmeshed with our technology, it takes a literal act of God for us to look away. We roam from electrical outlet to electrical outlet seeking our next fix. We search for WiFi signals like prospectors during the Gold Rush. We literally cannot complete a meal without involving social media. Technology has become a silent, yet very influential, partner in all our lives.
Don’t get me wrong. I remember being holed up in my room on Christmas vacation in 6th grade, trying to beat Super Mario Brothers. I was one of the first to run out and buy myself a cell phone. I won’t play a movie without it being connected to a home theater system. I love my technology. I do.
What I don’t love is what’s happened to people because of it. Tech has become the curtain we all hide behind, the filter for all our interactions, and the mandatory final step before actually making connections with the physical world.
There’s nothing sadder to me than seeing a kid in a shopping cart with his head trained toward a glowing screen, swiping hither and yon. I mean, shouldn’t that kid be taking in his surroundings, exploring his world, talking to his mother? Granted, I am aware of and fully acknowledge the educational benefits of handheld devices. It’s just…can’t we wait a while?
Our kids’ heads are inevitably going to be buried in something for the rest of their lives. They’ve got a good seventy-five years ahead of them to be inextricably trapped in the web of technology. Must they begin at age two or three?
My kids don’t have tablets, phones, or iPods. They’ve never even held an iPad. Further, they don’t know other kids use them. The only time we use our phones to entertain is at SuperCuts, where they watch Mater’s Tall Tales. That’s it.
I don’t want to wax old-fashioned, but my generation got by without it. We really did. There was no daily visual chronicling of life, no ability to solicit feedback from the general populace on every activity of daily living, and no social media influence exerted or accepted.
I don’t want technology to come between my husband and I and our kids, or our kids and their childhoods. It’s that simple.
It’s bad enough that they know every corporate logo they see, they blurt out the names of cereals I’ll never buy, and beg for toys I’ve never heard of. If I’m uncomfortable with that level of engagement, I can’t imagine how uncomfortable I’d be with three of them asking to use tablets all day.
I’d like to say that I shield them completely from all the evils of technology and social media, but you know I don’t. You see their pictures on Facebook, and Instagram, and even here. And that’s on me. In an ideal world, I’d never have started that, but, as you know, this world’s not ideal, and indeed I have.
I’m not a Grinchy grouch, or a technology-hater (at all). It’s just that I have preciously few years to see my kids faces in the glow of the sun instead of a touchscreen.
I’d like to keep it that way as long as I can.