I have teenage children. Wait…there’s more… who are technologically plugged in all the time. It’s really difficult to limit now. It’s no longer just Nintendo or Xbox for video games only. Setting time limits on video games and TV was…pfft…easy!!! Parenting was easy. Now it’s computers, iPads, iPhones…it’s for homework. It’s for me to communicate with them when they aren’t home. It’s music, it’s calendars, it’s everything! We are a family that has been taken over by technology. It’s good…AND evil.
The intention of technology is to make life better, right? Easier. …And it does deliver, but at what cost? This is what I’m asking myself lately. That old saying, “the road to hell was paved with good intentions”, rings softly in the back of my head. I’m not sitting here on my high horse bashing technology…I actually sit here on my iPad,… with my iPhone inches from me and my computer around the corner. I’m just like everyone else. That’s the problem! Even I, who had such loathing for all things tech not so long ago, have also become dependent on my iPad. I’m still shocked how quickly I converted. I hang my head in shame…
Social interaction, entertainment and almost every aspect of running a household happens mostly on my iPad or iPhone. I pay bills and keep current with my kids’ grades and teachers. i coordinate and plan every bit of our lives right here. Sometimes from the parking lot of Costco, scheduling doctors appointments and checking voicemail. I also chat with friends and lookyloo into people’s lives and just numb out to the vastness of endless information. It’s fun. It’s necessary. But mostly it’s just habit now. I overindulge! I have to remind myself to do the other things I like. Drawing. Painting. Nature observing. I can correct myself, because I remember who I was before I was entranced by the bright lights. But my kids? Will they ever know what they are missing?
How can I get them to feel the loss of something they never knew? As a child I drew pictures of things I was interested in. I pulled out an encyclopedia and looked for a tiny picture of an eagle or whatever – we had the whole set. I spent hours perfecting that drawing. I purposely walked through squishy mud in our garden because it felt good between my toes and I could make cool noises while weeding the garden. Getting dirty was not an issue. How about the cartwheels in the yard until I was sure I could medal in it at the olympics? My mom didn’t warn me about breaking my neck; I don’t think she looked for me until after the sun went down. Freedom to just do nothing was everything. I rode my bike for miles with nowhere to go. I walked along the canal banks because…there was nothing better to do. I just enjoyed “being”. I didn’t feel alone. I didn’t need to share each thought. Facebook and Twitter has us living like mini celebrities. We crave affirmation. Is growing up with that healthy? I dont know. Boredom was good. A motivator for creativity. I feel sad that my kids have never truly been bored or alone.
I want the best for my kids. Not just the best money can buy. I know times have changed and they don’t have to walk uphill to school! Both ways!! In the snow!!! Progress is good and I love my cushy life. Being born at the right time in the right place is pretty awesome. And I know they can’t re-live my country childhood. Ah, but I wish…
So all I can do is plant the seed I guess. To set the example. Because kids do what their parents do, not what their parents say to do. I will have a thought and not share it today. At least, not instantaneously. I will draw with a real pencil. Read from a real book. Squish my toes through mud. Ride my bike slow and without purpose to nowhere special. Lay in the grass and watch the clouds change shape in real time. I will try to recapture the simpler times amidst this fast paced world. Because this is what I want my kids to not only do, but see the value in it. Life’s blessings are in the details. It’s still a beautiful world out there if we look away from our screens to see it with our own eyes. It’s better than hi-def. But first you have to unplug.
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