June 21, 2014

Digital Dependence

I couldn’t post my blog on Friday this week… this time it wasn’t because I forgot. I have been trying to post weekly on Fridays. But this Friday the Internet wasn’t working. At least we had electricity, water, and the phone. But my little boys didn’t get to watch a show on youtube before bed and we couldn’t check our email. I`m not that old, but I remember what life was like before the Internet. We used libraries and encyclopaedias (the printed kind) for research. We used the postal service for mail. We listened to the radio for music. We watched shows on TV. We used a paper map instead of mapquest. I remember what life was like before computers. We played board games. We wrote stuff out by hand. I used to write stories and poetry in notebooks which are now in a box under my stairs. We used a dictionary and a thesaurus (the printed kind). Our brains did the computing. Were these the good old days? Not a chance. We live in an extraordinary age. Just this year we added an iPad and iPhone to our list of technology. It’s amazing what my boys can do with an iPad, iPhone or laptop. Even with limited screen time, they know exactly what they’re doing. We even bought my husband a remote controlled helicopter that uses an “i” gadget for a controller for Father’s Day. It’s awesome! The possibilities are endless – what can’t technology do? It’s like Star Trek come to life. The whole “if you dream it” thing. Well, someone’s dream certainly became a reality and we are living it!

Without technology, our society would be crippled. Already the use of computers is impacting how we teach in schools and how we live. My five year old son is already asking for an iPod. I didn’t have a walk-man until I was at least ten.  I first used a computer at school when I was six. My family got our first computer when I was ten. And there was no Internet until I was sixteen. I barely used email until university. I got my first cell phone at twenty. It was a different time. I now have two email addresses and two Facebook accounts to manage daily. A blog. My own laptop, an iPad, and an iPhone. The iPhone is the most recent addition. But no data so I can still claim I don’t have to be connected all the time. Just when I have access to Wi-Fi.

I love the fact that my boys are so tech-savvy. By having access to technology we are giving them a leg up for survival in this world. I was teasing my five year old about wanting an iPod and I started singing “‘Cause I’m a twenty-first century digital boy. I don’t know how to live, but I’ve got a lot of toys” to him, then I brought up youtube on my phone and started playing it. I forget the artist – I’d have to google it. A few years ago, I couldn’t even imagine the possibility. Yet here we are with access to a world of information literally in our hands. And the possibilities are endless. But we still take time as a family and make an effort to have screen-less time. We play board games, build lego, and go to the park. They play soccer. They ride their bikes. My kids play outside and aren’t glued to a screen 24/7. They watch their Saturday morning cartoons and their shows on youtube. They play games on the iPad and iPhone. But they also know how to play without screens.

We have technology. We use it. We may even need it. But we can live without it. At least for two nights when we go camping. Or when, for whatever reason, it isn’t working.

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