When I was a kid, I was obsessed with technology. Any product I could get my hands on, I would use. And when I had a chance to pick up a game console, you can bet I was rushing to the stores to get one. Technology ruled much of my childhood.
Still, I was able to handle the real world. I could converse with both kids and adults, and I was engaged enough in school to know that there was a time and place for my technology. I also understood that getting too obsessed with tech could make me socially awkward, which prompted me to question how much time I should be spending around it.
In other words, as tech-obsessed as I might have been, I think I had a healthy relationship with gadgets.
At a July 4 party, however, I came to realize that kids today have a much different experience with technology. When I was a kid, having a cell phone in high school was unheard of. At this recent party, which was attended by kids of all ages, even the 4-year-old was holding an iPod touch and texting her sister.
Every kid at the party was holding a smartphone or iPod rouch, and they were either playing games on it or texting their friends. At no point did they look up to see what was happening at the party, and when asked a question, they would wait to finish their text message before answering it. The adults in the room were understandably displeased by the behavior, but as the parents put it – “it’s their generation.”
If that’s the case, I’m worried about that generation. During dinner, we were all sitting at the table, having a nice discussion. I look over and see two of the older kids laughing with their phones in their hand. I asked what was up, and they promptly told me that they were texting each other from across the table. Rather than have a real conversation, they opted to type it from five feet apart.
Of course, it’s not just the kids who were at that party. A quick search on YouTube reveals countless videos of kids taking videos in school. An overwhelming number of those videos shows kids being ridiculed or bullied in some way. In the old days, if a kid was bullied, it wasn’t recorded. Now, the whole school sees what’s happening.
And since most devices today contain cameras and the ability to capture video, students are finding themselves in compromising positions when they send photos of themselves to others that are quickly sent around the school to fellow students.
Unfortunately, I think we’ve taken a hands-off approach to this growing, dangerous relationship between technology and kids. Most device makers realize that children are a key revenue generator, and parents are content today to placate their kids, rather than explain to them that having real conversations and acting like a human being is actually a better thing.
When I was a kid, the only time you saw a child with that zoned-out look on his or her face, they were playing a video game. And in many cases, parents were alarmed by it and told them it was time to go outside and play.
Nowadays, I see it wherever I go. And parents, shockingly enough, have the same look on their faces.
After all, if you want to talk to your kids nowadays, the best way is to text them, right?
IMAGE Summer Skyes 11