Friday, 11 September 2009

Technology - Good for kids?

So I managed to kill our computer within two weeks of starting to write my blog. What was I saying about being frazzled?

It would appear that it’s reached the end of it’s life. At only five years old it’s an unwelcome reminder that technology is moving so quickly that today’s exciting gadgets are useless antiques before we’ve even managed to work out how to use them properly.

I can remember the introduction of VHS video recorders, when watching the cast of Rainbow walk backwards through doors using rewind was incredibly exciting. I can remember life before mobile phones, when we actually used to have to sit on the bottom step in the hall to have a telephone conversation because that’s where the phone was. It would be a proper conversation. There would be no misunderstandings caused by the non-existent grammar used in texts. There would be no resentment caused by not immediately replying to texts. There would be no expectations of getting an answer when you phoned, for we all realised that everyone has lives that include eating meals, having baths, relaxing, working and so on, and that meant we couldn’t jump the second the phone went.

It is now a different world. My daughters will never know life before the DVD player. Will never know what it’s like to miss an exciting bit of telly because you had to go to the loo. Will never expect anything less than mobile phones, HDTV, live TV rewind, Emails, Internet etc. I wonder if they’d understand the pre-digital age if I tried to explain it. Whilst our generation always groaned at our grandparents use of the phrase “during the war”, our children will groan at our use of “before we had computers….”

I worry about it. Not a lot, but I do.

I worry about a lot of things! In this case I worry that it’ll effect their ability to socialise. That they’ll be less able to interact face to face in the real world because they have easy access to a world where face to face rarely occurs. I suppose I’ve answered my own concern there haven’t I? If there’s no need for face to face interaction, why do you need to have that skill?

I suppose our generation will be the last of the social traditionalists who think that ringing customer services should mean you actually get to talk to someone, rather than wading through ten minutes of options before being able to.

We’ll be the last to think that sending ten texts back and forth to organise a night out is slightly ridiculous and that you’d save time if you picked up the phone and talked for five minutes.
We’ll be the last to understand what a luxury all this technology is.

My daughter knows how to turn the TV and DVD on. She’s three. Whilst I limit the time she spends watching it, I’m already very aware of the battle I’ll have as she gets older to limit her “screen time”. It’s only a matter of time before she discovers computer games, and again, they are not something I ever got into, because I grew up without them! I grew up spending my spare time dancing, reading, drawing, painting, playing games in the back garden, roller skating, riding my bike. Not sat in front of a screen.

Should I be preparing myself for the battle? Or do I just accept that life has changed and let her, when she discovers them, play computer games as long as she likes? After all, I wouldn’t have the same conversation with her if she was sat reading a book for the same length of time…. Or would I? Does it matter?

Frankly the pace of change means that my daughter will grow up in a world that I can’t even comprehend. In the last 20 years we’ve gone from; four TV channels, land-line phones and basic word processors; to 998+ TV channels, internet connections on mobile phones that also take and store pictures and film and play your entire music collection, and an international online gaming community.

What’s going to happen in the next 20 years?

I guess I’ll just have to keep up and deal with it as it happens.

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