Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Technology Generation

This was the scene at my house for a while yesterday:

Emily was on one couch with DW's iPad navigating Netflix like a pro.  She found a princess movie to watch without any adult assistance.  Meanwhile, Rachel and Megan were on another couch side by side, each with a laptop open.  They were playing a Disney online game in which they create virtual fairies who become virtual friends and meet each other (and other fairies) in a virtual fairy world.

I would like to say this scene is uncommon, but that would not be completely truthful.  The fact is, today's kids (including mine) are being raised in a technological world.  They are surrounded by computers, smartphones, and iPads.  It is truly amazing how much technology has advanced even since my oldest was born less than ten years ago.  A while back we happened to be in a building that had actual pay phones.  My kids didn't know what they were and when we explained, they replied, "Well, that's silly!  Why don't people just use their cell phones?"  In fact, did you know that the word "google" is now listed in the Webster's dictionary?  It is both a verb and a noun.  (I know this because I looked it up - online.)  In the future, my kids will probably read this and wonder "What was this smartphone thing mom was writing about? And, what the heck is google?  Poor mom! Wasn't her little blog cute and oh so simplistic?!?"

Technology is great in so many ways.  We have information at our fingertips.  If our kids have a question, we can just look it up.  They can see the world without leaving their house.  We can connect with other families and find all kinds of fun things to do.  Concerned about an ominous cloud?  I just check my Weather Channel app.  Kids got a strange rash?  Just check their symptoms on WebMd.

However, I do have to wonder what negative effects it is having on our kids.  We live on about 15 acres and have lots of outdoor space, but, most of the time, my kids would much rather sit and watch T.V. or play on the computer than go outside and ride their new bikes.  At least 50% of what my oldest reads is on her Nook.  They have probably learned more about sports from the Wii than they have from actually playing.  (Maybe because they are all girls???)  At one point this year, my fourth grader was convinced that she needed a calculator to do her math homework.  Fourth Grade???  When I tried to reason with her and explain that she needed to learn to do it "the old fashioned way" because she might not always have a calculator she responded, "Yes I will.  There's a calculator on your iPhone."  True enough - but she still doesn't get to use a calculator for elementary school homework!  Ironically, you can google hundreds of articles about how technology is actually making our kids dumb and/or obese.

It is most definitely one of those "Catch 22" situations.  I don't want my kids to become so dependent on technology that they become lazy and don't learn how to do things on their own.  However, I know that they have to keep up with technology and learn to use it well if they want to be successful in life.  (The oldest can already do a better Power Point presentation than I could, I'm sure!)  So what do other parents out there think about all this??  Are your kids technology smart??  Technology lazy??  How do we find the balance?

Just consider these "food for thought" . . 

This one is a bit hard to read, but simply HAD to be included.  It says, "Can't I just email you a link to my blog,  Miss?" 


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