Karen Hardy June 02, 2012
There was a story during the week which really bugged me. No, it wasn't the fact that Brumbies captain Ben Mowen was left out of the Wallabies squad. Nor was it the brief about the idiot caught driving at 145km/h out on the Hume with his wife and kids asleep in the back on the folded down seats.
It wasn't the story about the Reverend Hannalore Hoffmann either, a woman who was successfully sued by her own daughter and son-in-law after she fell down the stairs while carrying her granddaughter. People, from Wallaby selectors to litigious families, can really annoy me sometimes. Which brings me to parents.
''Children consumed by unreal world of continual visions'' read the headline on Tuesday and the story went on to talk about how our children are becoming ''obsessed'' by technology.
Larry Rosen, a professor of psychology at California State University and author of iDisorder: Understanding Our Obsession with Technology and Overcoming its Hold on Us, was quoted as saying: ''How can you expect the world to compete with something like an iPad3 with a high-definition screen, clear video and lots of interactivity? How can anything compete with that?''
I would have immediately swiped to another page - you know that finger movement thingo you do on your iPad (I actually went and asked the online team if it had an official name, is there such a verb? - and hands up if you know what a verb is) - but I was actually reading it on paper and so I turned the page in disgust.
Of course things can compete with an iPad, or a smartphone, or a tablet. How about a story read from a book while nestled in your mother's lap, or a rumble with dad in the autumn leaves, or a lick on the face from your dog?
The story went on to say how parents are worried about the amount of screen time their children have, worried about how it's affecting their identity, their behaviour, future and present.
One easy answer people. TURN THE BLOODY THINGS OFF! (Apparently if you put things in capitals it adds emphasis.)
We have some rules at our place. Sure, they get totally ignored at times but in the most part we stick to them. No more than an hour of screen time a day. Which means you'll have to choose if you want to watch iCarly and The Block. Limit on the computer is 30 minutes. No televisions or computers in your bedroom until you're old enough to buy them yourself (which explains why mum and dad are allowed to have one in their bedroom). No electrics on weekends if the sun is shining. Go outside. We don't have a gaming console, unless you count the $30 one which makes Galaga look high-tech, and I copped a fair bit of grief when I bought them a Nintendo DS for Christmas past.
At times I do feel as though I'm depriving them. That by not letting them have access to the latest gizmo I'll be restricting their learning, making them fall behind their school friends who do have access to such things. But then I remember that I tried the same argument with my parents when they wouldn't get me an Atari and I cursed them because it meant I would never become a fighter pilot if I didn't know how to shoot space invaders. Let alone be able to save the world when the Pac Men took over.
I understand now that I am the parent and it's up to me how consumed I let my children become.
Stop whining, people, and pay attention to your children. For that's a big part of it too. In tomorrow's Relax magazine there's a story from Amity Dry who talks about us missing out on our children's childhoods because we, the parents, are too consumed by our own technology.
She talks about the guilt she felt when her young son grabbed her face so she would look at him, and not her phone, while he talked to her and how she couldn't push her daughter's swing properly while checking emails with one hand. Read it in full tomorrow.
What sort of message are we sending our children when we pay more attention to technology than to them? You are not important, this email is. Now what were you saying?
Put the technology down.
(I'll fess up here and admit I watch far too much television but I figure if the kids are asleep in bed, after I've read them a story and snugged them up, they'll never know I'm up till 2am watching Baggage with Jerry Springer and reruns of ER. My husband, on the other hand, notices. But that's another column altogether.)
The degree to which technology has consumed our lives is the bigger picture here, I guess. That really bugs me. How did the world function when people weren't available on their Blackberry over the weekend, or when they couldn't log into the server at work to catch up on that project, or indeed, even Google a question about the Great Wall of China?
It still functioned. This was the answer I gave my daughter when she thought it would be best if she got a phone, now she was catching a bus about 500 metres from school maybe twice a week. What if something goes wrong, she asked. Well, the school will call me, or the bus driver will call me. I can guarantee you that none of the 25 students on the first school bus, a horse-drawn buggy, introduced in 1827 by George Shillibeer for Newington Academy for Girls, a Quaker school in Stoke Newington, north-east of London - I Googled that - had a phone.
Harsh, some might say, but I was vindicated - and that doesn't happen very often - when, after I had taken my son to see Avengers, all 143 minutes of it, way over, as he pointed out, the screen-time limit, he came home and sat on his bed for hours and played with his figurines, making the next Avengers movie, he said.
What can compete with a ''high-definition screen, clear video and lots of interactivity''?
How about an imagination.