Technology – can’t live with it, can’t live without! Smartphones, iPads, laptops, smart TV’s……the digital revolution is amazing and literally engulfing us all like a giant tsunami. Of course the digital natives don’t know any different. And even though I work in the digital space every day, I was more than a little surprised when Sister of a Man-Child, now 8 years old, asked me recently for her own email account. She even told me she’s already decided a “name” for Gmail. I said no, straight away.
No because I didn’t want her having an email account that she could use to email her friends just yet, no because I didn’t want her having a SPAM account, where all those marketers (like me) could send her countless invitations to impart private information and sign up for countless offers. No because she’s only eight years old, and it just seems wrong.
She signed up for a website recently, created especially for kids, with all the right rules and regulations etc, and you could even pay a monthly fee for premium services. I gave in eventually when I found out quite a few of her friends were on it, and I was the only tight-arse parent not paying the subscription fee! Seriously though, it was Facebook for under 10’s! Totally getting them into online chatting, making friends, “buying” stuff….quite alarming in my view. Even more so when her friend’s mother rang me to say their 8-year-old daughter had amassed several hundred “friends” on the game and they were closing her account. Good move! I happily cancelled my daughter’s account the same week – peer pressure can be used to your advantage sometimes.
Thank goodness Facebook terms and conditions state you have to be 13 to have an account – at least I can use that excuse for the next 5 years. Already though she’s clued onto Facebook – who wouldn’t be when the rest of your family are constantly on it or talking about it. To the point that Sister of a Man-Child’s friend was over for a play recently, and mentioned something I had posted on Facebook about my daughter. Her mother had seen it, and commented on it (it was cute trust me), and then the daughter had seen it, and told my daughter. So now Sister of a Man-Child regularly prompts me to “put it on Facebook Mum” and asks if people comment or like something about her. See, she doesn’t even use it and already she’s being sucked into the vortex, the opportunity for two secs of “fame “on a Facebook wall, the opportunity to share the minutiae of her life with friends, friends of friends, and even complete randoms. I should know, I do it on a daily basis – a Facebook fan from way back. So much so I’m even paid to do it at work can you believe?
As for the Men-Children, they’re as obsessed as the rest of them. They have iPhones (naturally), but they no longer have their own laptops. We did buy them one each in Year 7 – not that it was mandated by school, but we thought it would be useful for homework (wishful thinking perhaps?). They’ve both since given up the ghost, the boys haven’t bothered to get them repaired (they only need a new charger/cord), and the boys had made do with mine or my husband’s Mac (we LOVE Mac’s). However, we’re now down to one Mac (damn it when you have to give back the work Mac) and as I’m on my work laptop (sadly not a Mac) most nights for work, they’ve been forced to share.
So for Christmas, top of the list for one Man-Child is a Mac. Yes, not just any laptop, which you can buy for $4-500 bucks, but a $1,000 Mac. Marketed so successfully that they enjoy a premium position and therefore premium price – they NEVER discount – haven’t you noticed damn it? Apart from the cost (he even offered to make it a combined Xmas/Birthday present – it’s still too expensive), we’re loath to buy them a laptop each. For the key reason, we don’t want them on them (read Facebook) 24/7. They still don’t need a computer for homework every night, and we know for a fact that if they’re on the computer, they’re on Facebook, which means they’re NOT doing their homework. Yes you can search Google and Wikipedia and be on Facebook at the same time, but we all know how easy it is to get distracted by that wall don’t we? I even found one of the men-children on Facebook at 7am in the morning, before he headed off to rowing. Just grabbing a quick look before we headed out the door – seriously!!
So tell me, should we get them a laptop for Christmas (even to share – a foreign word to the men-children but nevertheless a valuable lesson)? Or should we continue to fight the technology tsunami for as long as we can, and overnight earn the title of the world’s meanest, tightest, most horrible parents ever put on the earth? I’d almost rather live with the abuse than feed the beast! Crazy I know. :)
I’ve talked about technology and Gen Z before. Read more here.