It never ceases to amaze me how much technology has infiltrated our daily lives. I mean, really, between computers, the internet, cell phones, satellite TV, GPS, and iPods, we’re almost always connected with technology. It’s even more incredible when you compare the childhoods of my generation to the childhoods that my children are currently living. It’s astounding! And there isn’t even that big of a time difference. Imagine the differences between my parents’ generation and my kids!
Think about it.
When I was a kid, I didn’t get to watch cartoons every day, all day long if I wanted. I had to wait for Saturday mornings. My kids have at least five channels with programming almost solely geared for them. (I do have to say the restrictions my husband and I put on our children are a little more tight when it comes to TV shows than other kids’ parents. There is definitely some questionable shows out there that they say are for kids.)
I didn’t get my first home computer until I was 17 or 18 and then it was a really old hand-me-down that my mom got from someone she worked with. And the only reason she got it was because she figured it would come in handy when I went off to college. My kids have had access to a computer since they were each about two. And they are really good at operating one! My son, who just turned three, knows how to log into his profile, open games, and play. He even knows how to log someone off so he can get to the right screen to pick his name! I couldn’t believe it the first time he did it because no one taught him how. He just picked it up on his own.
My first experience with the internet was either my eighth grade or freshman year of school and it was a section of our computer class. It was being taught as strictly a research tool and I remember being in awe of all the information I could find online. My daughter got to go online at school starting in kindergarten and they were allowed access to certain websites to play games! Kindergarten! Now she knows all about Googling and has asked for a MySpace or Facebook page. (Yeah, that isn’t happening for a long time.)
I remember the first gaming system my family had and I was actually pretty little. Maybe four. I was lucky that my siblings were much older and they had an Atari. (I still love those games and wish they would come out with newer ones!) But now, kids can carry game systems with them! There’s Nintendo DS, PSP, even Leapster for the toddler age kids. And the choices for home game systems are incredible. PS3, Wii, and now X-Box with Kinect! (I had my first experience with Kinect just this past weekend, but that’s a whole other story!)
I didn’t get my first cell phone until I was 18 and it was just a month or two before I left for college. Now kids as young as fourth grade (maybe younger) have them and you see elementary kids breaking them out as soon as they walk out of school. (Not my kid, though. She’ll have to wait a bit longer. I’m such a meanie.)
And mp3 players? I just got my first one this Christmas, whereas my kids? My daughter’s first was when she was maybe seven and my son when he was two. Yes, I said two. He kept trying to steal his sister’s so we figured it would be better to get him his own. His doesn’t need headphones, though, so we don’t have to worry about him blowing out his eardrums or anything.
As I sit here typing, my son is wanting to be done with his breakfast so he can get back on the computer. It’s turned into a major strategy session just to plan who gets computer time when. There are four of us in the house. My husband has his own laptop from work, so he doesn’t need the house computer very often, but there are times. My daughter just got her own laptop, so that has reduced the conflict considerably. Now it’s between me and my three year old to fight over computer time. And of course, I give in and let him play. Which leaves naptime and occasionally bedtime as “Mommy’s computer time.”
But, it leaves me wishing I had my own laptop. There are times when I really need or want to use the computer and it doesn’t work out. Never in a million years would I have ever thought we would need four computers for a family of four. Especially since one of those members is three years old. But it’s looking like that more and more. It sure would make it easier to get things written or just play my games and do all the things I like to do.
It also makes me wish for the simpler times. I sometimes can’t help but think the technology is what is causing kids to grow up too quickly. They have access to things that we never had a chance to experience until we were much older. We had to rely on our dolls or cars or (gasp!) books to keep us occupied. Kids don’t think about picking up books like they once did. Now they’d rather pick up their game controller or remote control and watch a distorted view of life instead of opening up a whole new world in a book.
But who am I kidding? I love technology! I can’t let my cell phone leave my side and I have to check into Facebook at least once a day. (Gotta keep up with my games, you know.) And I am a huge computer game player. If I didn’t have kids, I would probably be one of those people who is on their computer for fourteen hours without even knowing it. But technology is just the way life is now. They need to be comfortable and familiar with it because so many jobs now depend upon it. We as parents just have to make sure it doesn’t take over our kids lives.