There are likely close to seven thousand articles on the Internet about the subject of kids and electronics. There are likely thousands upon thousands of articles about screen time vs. imaginative play, and the best way to parent kids in this generation – the generation of technology.
The Internet is an endless, vast pool of useless information on parenting and electronics and all the ways that you, as a parent, are fucking up and failing your child. Didn’t get your kid the latest iPad? Fail. Oh, you did? Well you fail too.
I basically concluded from the mass amounts of “parenting articles” that I fail in every sense, all the time – or at least, I fail according to someone else.
So, why not right my own article about kids and electronics, dictating to other parents how they should parent because my way is obviously the best way?*
I have said before that I don’t feel that kids should have the latest gadgets. Apparently, this makes me one of those “kids shouldn’t have any gadgets at all and should only ever play with rocks and sticks” kind of parents. Or at least, I’ve been accused of being one of those parents. But, note the emphasis on the latest. I’m talking the gadgets that just came out, the top of the top – the ones that cost half a months rent or more.
When I say they shouldn’t have the latest gadgets, I don’t mean that you should never splurge and buy the newest iPad when you get a wickedly awesome deal on it. I’m not saying that buying the newest pieces of technology will instantly make you a shitty parent – I’m just saying if you find yourself constantly “replacing” their old gadgets with new, top of the line ones…then you might have a problem down the road. Your kid is going to expect that kind of treatment for life, and what happens if you lose that cushiony job? Or fall upon hard times? And suddenly the latest iPad or iFoot or whatever Apple product is released and your kid pitches a fit because his perfectly fine older version isn’t the same as the newest one? Then you feel even shittier because you’ll feel as if you’ve failed your child, and even though they have a perfectly fine working tablet, they’ll act as if you’re forcing them to use something from the stone age.
We’re all guilty of replacing our “outdated” pieces of technology. Your phone, for example. It starts to lag, it starts to tweak out because I’m pretty sure electronic technology companies (here’s looking at you, Apple and Samsung) force “updates” upon us to slowly destroy our devices so that we have to upgrade to the latest, because you need a working phone in this day in age. How else will you post that selfie? That delicious meal at that fancy restaurant? Or that parenting anecdote? And we’re absently teaching that to our kids, you know? Oh, it’s a bit old, and it’s not as fast as it once was – replace it.
What I mean when I say that kids don’t need the latest gadgets is that they don’t need the latest ones. Yes, it is important for children to learn technology – after all, it’s the generation we live in. Everything is about technology, everything. I can’t remember the last time I received an invitation in the mail – Facebook event invites are the way to go. And whether or not I feel that’s a bad thing is a post for another day; the fact of the matter is that we live in a world consumed by technology. It’s only going to get more complex, so yes, it is imperative that kids learn how to work the basics. Besides, we had Nintendo and Play Station growing up. We watched cartoons like it was going out of style, and we survived. Oh, wait…we’re completely consumed by technology. Maybe we didn’t come out unscathed, but again – that’s a post for another day.
But back to the point that I’m trying to make here…kids and the latest gadgets. They don’t need to have the latest gadgets, or even brand name ones. My kids are perfectly happy with their low-cost, no-name tablet. They can do basically everything that one could do on an iPad. They still know how to work an iPad, an iPhone and other such nonsense. They pick it up and it’s like breathing – they just know. They see us doing it and they mirror it, and it’s fairly easy to learn.
By replacing “outdated gadgets” with the latest ones, we’re just feeding into this twisted, warped view that we must always have The Best and The Fastest electronic devices. Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about – that moment when you finally get an upgrade for your phone, and you buy the iPhone 6 or whatever, and a week later they announce the iPhone 7. It’s obviously an issue – people camp outside of the Apple store to get the latest gadgets. It’s a goddamn epidemic and let’s face it…kids are expensive enough. What they really need and want is your time.
So, this article serves a purpose (and not just a random rant dictating how you should parent), I’m sort of hoping it’ll open your eyes as it’s opened mine: the issue isn’t kids and technology, it’s the need that we all feel to have the latest gadgets.
Or something along those lines.
*That was sarcasm, by the way. My way is obviously not the best way.