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Technology Doesn’t Change Everything

Photograph by Getty Images

Even in today’s hyper-tech world, some things about childhood don’t change. I see this in my 8-year-old daughter, when she makes elastic bracelets on her Rainbow Loom, or when she builds a fort made from chairs, blankets and pillows for her and her baby brother. I hear it when she tells me about who she played with and what they played at recess, and when I see her practicing her handwriting on paper handouts from her teacher.

My daughter’s childhood is in many ways similar to mine, despite the generational and technology gap. In the summer, she draws colorful hopscotch blocks on our driveway with sidewalk chalk, rides her bike around the neighborhood and blows bubbles on our backyard patio. In the winter, she looks forward to holiday baking and making snow angels.

Year round, she seizes every opportunity to do sing-song hand games and play cat’s cradle. She loves being a girly-girl — she’s all about sparkly nail polish, fancy clothes, earrings and hairstyles. And you can often find her sitting on her bed enraptured by a novel or fascinated by facts she discovers in an almanac. One of my daughter’s favorite books is one from my childhood — a story about a young girl with a magic doll called “Magic Elizabeth.” I was thrilled to see her nose buried in the same ratty copy of the book that I somehow managed to keep for so many years.

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When I get frustrated with the amount of time my daughter spends on the iPad, I remember how much of my childhood was spent in front of the TV. We had a bigger screen in the middle of a large room and regularly spent hours laughing along with a canned track at sitcom characters acting out predictable story lines. She has a smaller, personal screen and headphones and watches the same kind of shows. In all likelihood, I spent the same amount of time in front of a screen when I was her age in the 1970s as she does today, even though she has lots more types of screens available to her.

For those who lament the good old days — probably most of us as we get older — we should remember that even through we may not be able to keep up with our kids’ latest gadgets or technologies, they are still fundamentally like us.

For those who lament the good old days — probably most of us as we get older — we should remember that even through we may not be able to keep up with our kids’ latest gadgets or technologies, they are still fundamentally like us. When we hang out and really connect with them, we’ll likely find that they’re genuinely interested in learning about and doing things the low-tech or no-tech way.

Just like we did as kids.

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