I Spy the i-Generation…Momm-i, Dadd-i?

digital blog 4-1-2013

What Can I do?

If you’re a parent, please read this now or when you have a moment, “The Touch-Screen Generation” by Hanna Rosin in The Atlantic: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/04/the-touch-screen-generation/309250/

Quick Review

If you’re a busy parent like every other parent, here is a short review and discourse of this article. Ms. Rosin is also a parent and writes this candid piece in the wake of attending an event in spring of 2012 where a group of developers of children’s apps for phones and tablets met in Monterey, California—a short drive south of Silicon Valley—in order to show and tell about their respective games and programs.

 Today’s i-Reality

As fast our fingers can swipe on these touch –screen gadgets is how pervasive their presence in our lives have become. The American Academy of Pediatrics has not been able to keep up with the technology as it struggles to report on its policy about young children being exposed to various media (we all remember the under-2 years old not so good for TV exposure). How many of us have witnessed the child in the high-chair dining nearby with an iPad to boot? How many of us are that parent(s) who have handed over the iPhone in desperation at the post office as the line snakes around for twenty people or so?

 i AM the parent i AM!

“Norman Rockwell never painted Boy Swiping Finger on Screen, and our vision of a perfect childhood has never adjusted to accommodate that now-common tableau.” –Hanna Rosin, “The Touch-Screen Generation” The Atlantic

You are still the parent no matter what technology shows up in our world today. Truly you are still the gate-keeper for your little one(s) who need human touch more than a touch-sensitive tin screen that is derived from horrible mining conditions parallel to the “blood diamond” controversy in recent decades.

Research? Doesn’t really exist yet on whether or not the good outweighs the bad in terms of a child’s exposure to these gizmos and gadgets that get smaller, smarter and faster as the months pass. What hasn’t changed is that you still are the best gauge to measure what’s right and wrong for your children. Ms. Rosin found it interesting that when she spoke with some of the children’s app developers about how they approached their home rules when it came to screen time—she got answers like “no screen time during the week”, “on the weekends, they can play. I give them a limit of half an hour and then stop. Enough. It can be too addictive, too stimulating for the brain” and “one said only on airplanes and long car rides”.

Personally, with a toddler and preschooler now in my stewardship, my husband and I find no reason for them to need to use touch-screens right now. There will be no learning curve for them to master as this stuff is so easy that it makes watching TV seem like a chore. Seriously, I witnessed a 90-year old yesterday using “face time” on the iPad at a friend’s home. At the same time, I do allow them to utilize the touch-screens at museums and to witness peers using them—please forgive the reference, but I can’t be Amish about this subject with my children, they are aware these technologies exist (especially as one of their beloved relatives is a computer engineer).

 Complex Answers to Simple Swipes

“The reason many kids’ apps are grouped under ‘Education’ in the iTunes store, I suspect, is to assuage parents’ guilt (though I also suspect in the long run, all those ‘educational’ apps merely perpetuate our neurotic relationship with technology, by reinforcing the idea that they must be sorted vigilantly into ‘good’ or ‘bad’”. –Hanna Rosin

There are so many ways to approach this question as to whether exposure to these digital technologies will help or hinder our children. If you thought what we feed our children was a concern, this one is an alarming obsession since we ourselves are busy trying to learn the new gadget in our hands before our kid gets a hold of it and masters it in less than half the time it took us to find where to tappity-tap.

Ms. Rosin says what I feel as well:
“Every new medium has, within a short time of its introduction, been condemned as a threat to young people. Pulp novels would destroy their morals, TV would wreck their eyesight, video games would make them violent…There are legitimate broader questions about how American children spend their time, but all you can do is keep them in mind as you decide what rules to set down for your own child.”

Enjoy the Ride

As parents in the early part of the 21st century, we can’t complain about being bored with this awesome responsibility of raising the next generation who will likely see this 22nd century bring about new technologies we can hardly fathom. I hope we can impart to them the importance of love for each other, for our natural resource (Creation in general) and a healthy curiosity for the unknown and ever-changing landscape of our human creativity.

R.V. Saridakis Bean

 Book and Reading Recommendations:

  •  “Screen Time” by Lisa Guernsey and her website http://www.lisaguernsey.com
  •  “From Digital Natives to Digital Wisdom: Hopeful Essays for 21st Century Learning” by Marc Prensky and his website http://www.marcprensky.com
  •  “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder” by Richard Louv

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