iBabies – Is that a bad thing?

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Someone posted this link today: Toddlers becoming so addicted to iPads they require therapy

And I had to give a long response, the more I thought about it, the longer it got. And now I’m making it even longer.

You should see me throwing a look of death when hubby touches my iPad. Or if the battery goes dead but I want to sit outside. They are so EASY to use! It’s been a running joke since the VCR was invented that kids understand technology better than adults. My thought has been, since I now have friends and family with young ones who also have smart phones and/or tablets: are they created to be so easy, or are they easy because some (not all!) of us are willing to learn? My dad is in his 70’s and loves computers. But daily, I have to tell people (over the phone, how hard is that?) how to copy and paste – and they can’t be as old as my dad. I had one who was just back from maternity leave. How can you be young enough to have a baby but still not know how to copy and paste? These children will never have that problem.

Maybe these kids will be the next-generation equivalent of Jobs and Gates, because they have had this fabulous thing their whole lives. They will be able to think, and invent, in ways that us old farts never conceived of because a touch screen and Skype didn’t exist when we were three. Maybe they will be behind the times because by the time they are 18, we will have the same level of technology access by eye movements or subdermal implants. Maybe, just maybe, they’ll be normal adults, the same as us who stared at MTV for hours turned out. Is it an addiction, or is it the future?

This is our i-thingie collection: second, first and third gen phones, and my precious, precious iPad – which you will pry out of my cold dead hands. Or, you know, take away and set aside nightly when I fall asleep.

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32 responses »

  1. When electricity arrived in the cities, people were reluctant to connect because they feared the risks of fire. When the microwaves entered our houses, people thought they would induce cancer and even cook their eyes if they were looking at the food as it heated up. When television became popular, people warned parents not to let the children in front of the TV for too long as they would become obese. When the video game consoles arrived, children would suddenly stop going outside or seeing friends. It was even worse about computers. It was only to expect that something would come up about the newer trend of portable devices.

    Spending four hours on a single toy is not an addiction. The reaction they get from these kids as they take the iPad away from them isn’t very different of what my son would have done 6-7 years ago if I took his legos away.

    My son always was a creative kid. As a toddler, he spent many hours drawing things (that I could only understand after he explained them to me). Later, he spent hours on hours building things with legos, most often anything that wasn’t what that particular lego set was made for (building a starship with a set for a truck). Later, he spent hours building houses in The Sims, and now he tends to spend a lot of time building stuff in Minecraft (a game I don’t understand). He grew older, he took his passion to a higher level in steps. Lately, he discovered how to create texture packs for Minecraft (he had to explain to me what the term meant).

    Will he never get a job? I think he might get better than me.

    Computers was always a passion for me, but I didn’t have the chance to grow with a computer. I can give my son the chance, would I pass that? When I bought my current computer 1.5 year ago, my old one went to him, and he is the exclusive user of it. I used to install games or software for him, now he does that all by himself. Over the last year, I had to increase my download quota several times to cope with his use of YouTube — I bet most parents would have just took their child off of YouTube instead.

    At this point, I might mention that he still see friends, play at the park and, unbelievably, he is a scout!!

    Lately, I caught him watching an educational video about space and planets. Oh my fu****g god, imagine just how much waste that is!! Turned off the computer and grounded him for the weekend. What next, he will want to become a scientist? (Yes, this last paragraph is sarcasm.)

    • Terrible child! You spoil him πŸ™‚ I agree, just because it is new doesn’t mean it is bad. These skills he is teaching himself will only ever be useful, even playing games. I hope he becomes that scientist!

  2. I love computers and tech gadgets – even though I’m not as “fluent” and adept as I should be (if I would only read/watch the instructions husband moans…easier to call my kid and she tells me)
    But these devices are changing the way humans process information and read and communicate. Things must be done quickly ( and speed rule over correctness/facts sometimes) More impatient people now. Marketing, publishing, entertainment, friendship, leisure, and work – all is changing. We’ll see. It’s a shakedown cruise! (and all the electronic light/blue light disrupts sleep…I hate husband’s phone which has to loudly blink green in the middle of the night…his business is international – so it never sleeeeepppppssss never! I am so sleepy today….)

    • Shall I guess last night was a busy work night for Himself? That would drive me crazy. There’s a whole psychology to how humans use tools – I find it fascinating that somehow children are better using brand new tools – is it design, or just their inherent adaptability?

      • Their little fingers and brains work faster and better? And they aren’t worried about something getting ruined if the wrong button is pushed?
        It is driving me crazy…some countries never sleep – they work in shifts 24 hrs…nuts. totally nuts

        • I think you have it there – the lack of fear! There is rarely an ‘OMG I broke it’ moment these days (but oh, there usedta be!). I hope he gets paid extra for odd hours. Ferinstance, I should have gone to bed an hour ago!

          • When it’s your own company, you are never off the clock. But one of the trade offs for being your own boss.
            I credit some 6th grade kids for teaching me the “no fear method of computers”( that group were absolute terrors – to others – but we soared …and commandeered the computer labs that were rarely used – too bad the edu system drove me insane. Had to walk away. Going to corral the dog and try to get some sleep

      • I would say ‘adaptability’ (or something similar) is probably a great reason (though philosophermouseofthehedge had a good point too in the next reply). I remember when I was really young I was programming the VCR myself to tape those shows I couldn’t watch, because my mother was unable to do that. These machines weren’t easy to use back then, that was before we had on-screen menus and such, you had to press a lot of buttons in the correct sequence. It was definitely not the ease of use, it was probably that I was more apt to learn these new technologies as I was young enough to learn. It might also be that my mother was uninterested in learning that.

        These new phones and tablets are quite easy to learn though, so it sure help for these kids. I was impress this last xmas to see my nephew use the phone and play whatever she wanted. Only catch, my sister made sure she wouldn’t know the password so she could keep control.

  3. It is true,every generation bemoans the next one,i’m sure my grandmother,who rode a cow to school,thought there was no hope for my mother. My mother who had to have an escort to a dance ,who then in turn thought that my listening to Kiss and heavy metal would in fact see me becoming a devil worshipper.And myself who wonders why my 30 year old son still loves his XPLAYBOXSTATIONWIISINGSTAR thingy even though he is married and should be making me some grandbabies . We always bemoan the new generations and we hear our parents voices when we do,but the fact is each generation will have it’s best and brightest and it’s dumb and dumbers..life really is just rehashing the old into a different new. πŸ™‚

    • A cow! That beats the classic American joke ‘Bus!?! I had to walk to school. Uphill. Both ways.’
      I like Kiss and metal too – I still have ‘Love Gun’ on vinyl! Yay for cool gals who love nature and head banging πŸ˜‰

      • Married a heavy metal guitarist,three son…ine Bass,one Guitar and one Drums…daughter street/graph artist…all animal lovers too πŸ˜‰ Vinyl everything too hahaha first concert we took our eldest son to was Van Halen at the age of 6..studded wrist bands and all hahaha

        • No WAY! Okay you totally rock πŸ™‚ No pun intended! Have loads of VH on rotation in the car lately, do you like their new one? I’ve been a Metallica fan since about…1984. Still my fave but they have sooo lost me with the newer work.

          Sent from my iPad

            • Oh bugger huge crush i had on Dave! when we took Brad to the concert there was such a fuss made and if the band had not been running a bit late we all would have met them…Dang!

            • Who didn’t! Dave was a jerk but who cared. He’s losing that gorgeous hair! He’s CUT IT OFF. I know I know (holds your hand in sympathy). But he still sounds great!

              Sent from my iPad

            • I was listening to the new one today in the car, trying to decide if you’d like it or not. Didn’t finish the whole thing, so will come back with my report!

              If you like men with long blonde hair, look for pics of iDJ on my blog – he’s got hair down to his arse! Not a metal-head, loves every kind of music ever invented, but I forgive him πŸ™‚

            • Yes report back..:) hahaha the only bloke with long blonde hair i ever fancied was Dave …preferred brunettes married a blonde go figure…guess i am fickle hehe ..of course you forgive him…you love him πŸ™‚ i switch between heavy metal to classical to jazz..depends on my mood..jazz for cooking..heavy metal for cleaning πŸ™‚

            • Okay, finished the album today, keeping you in mind (heard it dozens of times, but this was special!) and yes, get it. It harks back to early days when some tunes were good and some ‘whatever’ but they all have the good VH sound.
              My hubby is my first blonde! It’s a bit weird still. Not sure whose hair is in my dinner until I see the curl πŸ™‚ I have to say, there is some music he likes that gags me: American country and ANY rap/hip-hop. Ugh. But, he shares my distaste for ‘Country and Irish’ which is a genre that should be avoided at all costs.
              What’s your best jazz? I could use some tips.

            • Rap…country music..kill me now…slowly..yetch! at the moment i am hooked on Ella Fitzgerald and Billie holliday….i love the rich real woman sound…great to cook to πŸ™‚ unless i am making paella then it’s my spanish music hahahaa i will get hubby to grab me some VH ..and oh god the blond curl! yep sounds like hubby..when our twin boys were born one of them was held up by the dr who said guess who’s got dads curls..tiny little premmie head…blone curls πŸ™‚ hehe

  4. I misread this at first, and thought it said “Babies — is that a bad thing”? And I was going to log in and yell YES YES YES at the top of my capital letters because I can never see a baby without thinking THERE GO A HUNDRED MORE ACRES OF RAINFOREST not to mention the shriveling scraps of my peace of mind and breathing space (people drag them everywhere, even before you get the question of more and more humans cluttering up the world, just the fairly sickening sight of a squalling, babbling, diaper-filling, puky baby makes me want to emit invisible death rays and write tickets).

    But tech babies? I can’t really arrive at much of an opinion. If it shuts them up I suppose that’s something.

  5. Well, before she was 2 Cerys knew which iphone folder had her games in it, where the photos were, how to flick through the photos and which were videos (mostly of her…). She sometimes asks to play a phonics/ABC game or a counting game. I rarely, but sometimes, will offer it to her to keep her quiet.

    Now at almost 3 she can open my Macbook and find her Starfall web page (all educational and she LOVES it). She manipulates the cursor and rarely needs my help anymore. She doesn’t play these every day, but several times a week. I don’t think it’s a bad thing – it’s always going to be a part of her life just as TV was a part of my generation. How much and the type of content is what’s important, I think, and should be monitored, just like TV. Everything in moderation, right?

    The real problem in the article above is the parents not telling their children ‘no’! So they’ll cry. So what? You’re the parent. A few firm ‘no’s and they’ll learn. Sheesh!

    • And you have hit the main problem perfectly with the last bit! The kid can’t become an addict without being allowed to become an addict. If you use it as a babysitter all the time, it gains too much importance. Of course I was thinking of Cerys here, I’m amazed at her ability to use technology. But she can also read, which we both know is even more important πŸ™‚ I have nothing bad to say here at all, and you’re a great teacher.

  6. What bothers me most about all the tech is that a lot of people seem to have no manners with their gadgets anymore. They go over a friend’s house and then text someone else all night, play with their phones at weddings, and things like that.

  7. We just have to get used to the way things are. No going back. The pace of change in IT in the last decade has been extraordinary. Some kids can already do more with an iPad than their parents thought possible. A little of most things is good, it’s working out the balance before kicking them outside to ‘play’.

  8. For kids, the technology can start out as toys and eventually become a well-paying job. I work with adults who are afraid of computers and have barely learned a thing about them or the software on them. I find them to be nearly useless coworkers at times. I get sick of being substitute IT support. At work, these things are tools – better to learn how to use them early rather than become a fossil who just gets in the way at work.

    • Snap! The amount of complaining I hear at work because we are forcing people to use the Internet is unbelievable. Hey, I didn’t choose it, the people you work for did! If it’s that hard I’m sure there are remedial courses your employer will offer. Well, after they get around to buying computers for everyone… I work with people half my age who didn’t know that ctrl-f would find text in ANY program (nearly). Biggest computer secret? If it’s too hard, you aren’t doing it right. Kids seem to go right for the easy way, instinctually almost – bizarre!

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