The trials and tribulations of a techno connected life

We aren’t exactly the most technical of families

The desktop computer is four years old. My laptop belongs to a time period pre-everything, any attempt at internet connection allows you to go off and cook a three course meal while you wait for it to load and it won’t let you type the letter “g”. This proves somewhat difficult given my email address includes the letter “g” and many sentences don’t make sense when you remove the “g”.

Up until quite recently the only “apple” in the house was of the fruit variety. So we have come late to the technically connected lifestyle.

Christmas 2010 the girls got I-pods, only four months ago we got an I-pad and in November I received an I-phone for my birthday.

Has this changed our life? Hell yeah. In a good way? Well the jury is still out on that decision.

While others are attempting to streamline or eliminate their amount of connectivity we are just jumping aboard. As usual, a little behind the ball.

I was beginning to feel we were starting to lag a little too far behind hence my decision to get us more up to speed. It was obvious the world was becoming geared toward the latest technology and it occurred to me the children might actually be at a disadvantage because we weren’t allowing them to participate.

During our homeless phase (when we were waiting for the house to be built and relying on the kindness of Aunt Dorothy for a roof over our heads) we had no internet connection. It quickly became apparent schools expected home internet connection and made no provision for families who weren’t on-line. When I tried to explain our circumstances I was informed the children would have to go to the library at lunchtime to do the on-line maths homework etc. Given Hippie Child was in her first year of high school I sort of felt it was more important she be out in the playground making friends rather than in the library doing homework – but that’s just me I guess.

Right now we are still in the honeymoon phase with some of the gadgets. Everyone loves the I-pad, the girls need to be surgically removed from the I-pods. Although the I-phone and I have gone straight to the wanting to kill each other relationship phase. Let’s just say be careful what you wish for – I so wanted one, all the cool blogging girls seemed to have one. There they were tweeting, emailing, posting as they go about their daily lives, oh look someone’s tweeted another Instagram picture. It was like a secret society and I wanted in.

Sadly, in usual Shambolic style it hasn’t been the greatest of love affairs Our phone carrier doesn’t allow coverage to 85% of our town (my statistic based on where I want to use it) – everybody else can use their phones. Just not me. Siri doesn’t believe I speak English, and seems to think Ronan Keating is the answer to the majority of questions I ask. My fingers are too large for the teeny, weeny type pad so my texts turn out to be largely a matter of guesswork for the receivers. Took me ages to get the voice mail sorted, in the meantime I almost missed out on drinks with friends. DRINKS people, I nearly missed DRINKS. I’m still getting used to the whole “touch me and I do something” world, I’ve looked up my contact list numerous times, only to find myself accidentally making phone calls. But hey it’s nice to catch up.

It will get better I know and I do like being able to check my emails and use the internet from my phone so I will persevere.

In regards to how all this connectivity has changed our lives, it certainly means we are more screen focused and we are going to have to enforce limits (mainly for me I think given my current obsession with blogging).

In terms of the children this is a world Princess Child loves. What that child can do on a computer, amazing. We all rely on her to help with our problems. She’s the only one who can remember all the passwords to get around child-safety locks – I know the irony isn’t lost on us either. In computer world she is confident and happy – I could see her ending up working in this field.

Hippie Child on the other hand, well she can turn the computer on, after that Lord only knows where she’ll end up. She blames her technical illiteracy on the fact that I didn’t encourage it when she was a toddler. Gee whiz sorry about all that finger painting, water fights, mud pies.

I’m undecided about what impact all this technology will have on this generation. I see pictures of two-year-olds with I-pads and I worry. Then again children do need to be part of their generation. When they are sitting at the dinner party when they are 30 and everybody is talking about “remember that Facebook thing – wasn’t that the quaintest form of communication ever”, it would be helpful if they were at least slightly familiar with Facebook so they can laugh along with the joke.

I think as parents we have to be on-line ourselves to understand the world they are inhabiting and there has to be lots of discussions about the good/the bad/the ugly of all the social media and the devices we use to connect.

Will that be enough? What do you think? Should we be switching off rather than on? Or is this just the beginning of an entirely new way of communicating, working, living, that our children need to be up-to-date with in order to survive?

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8 thoughts on “The trials and tribulations of a techno connected life

  1. Totally agree that kids should be exposed to all the latest technology… Both my kids have iPods (which they bought themselves last year) and my eldest (who is 11) has just bought herself her very own laptop from money she has saved all year from pocket money, birthdays, Christmas etc… As you have said, as long as there are boundaries and supervision I don’t see how it can hurt… Although a 2yo with an iPad is very disturbing!!! What ever happened to dolls and toy cars???

  2. i can barely sit long enough to blog and go check out my friends’ blogs. but i understand the appeal. it’s interesting! and educational. i’m glad your girls don’t have to go to the library to get online!

  3. Funny, I’ve been mulling over a blog post about this same issue. For me it’s about why I use pencils and keep a paper calendar even when using my phone and computer to keep track of things would be more convenient. I like paper. I love my Kindle but I love books too. Our son has an iPod touch that he loves, but man the boundaries we have to set on that puppy! He’s pretty good about it though, I have to say. And the iPad. I’m glad I’m waiting on that one. I just can’t see spending the money because it’s “cool” or it might make my pictures look “pretty!”

    • The I-pad is probably the thing that has changed our amount of screen time the most for my husband and I – he reads the news sites of a morning having breakfast and at night we seem to be taking turns on it sitting in front of the TV. It is very convenient. I’ve also put a lot of the BYW notes and other stuff I want to read about blogging on it so use it as a bit of a reader. Although I can’t imagine not having books – like you I love paper. I also couldn’t survive without my paper diary. Technology was supposed to decrease the amount of paper we have – although I still find myself printing stuff out (probably more than ever before) because I like to read on paper not a screen. I look forward to reading your blog post.

  4. As a high school teacher, all I see are kids with one headphone in their ear – even as they are talking with friends (what’s THAT about ?;)) and always seemingly desperate for a screen to look at.
    On the positive side I think, yes, children DEFINITELY need to be computer savvy to keep up with the times. Absolutely.
    Unfortunately, I also see, first hand at school, LOTS of negatives in regards to the ‘control’ of having and using gadgets – ESPECIALLY if they have access to the internet. The main bummer is that we, as parents, simply didn’t grow up with this and we are also learning as we go. Also, kids being kids, they feel invincible and simply want more – it’s addictive. So, the conundrum for me is – how do I balance tech savviness with the fact that SO many bad mistakes can be made with this technology, simply because they ARE just kids?
    Your post made me giggle, though and I agree with Lauren – I like paper! :))

    • I have friends who are teachers who refuse to have anything to do with Facebook because they are frequently having to deal with some pretty horrendous issues bullying, nude photos etc. But like everything there is a good side to it when a young boy died here his friends used Facebook to support each other and pay tribute to him. You are right I think what is so difficult for parents is that this is so completely different to what we were dealing with when we were at school. The explosion of social media and assorted devices just in the last 10 years has completely changed the world and somehow we have all got to figure out a way to deal with it. It’s like a big experiment we don’t know how these tech savvy kids will turn out. Brilliant or dysfunctional with no social skills whatsoever? Who knows. I do think we have to find a balance – if we get them away from the screens into the outdoors and they have other hobbies hopefully it will turn out OK. I also believe we have to make an effort to be online ourselves so we can understand the methods and the challenges it presents.

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