It's easy to tell yourself that other parents are "doing it wrong" if their kids are spending too much time gazing at screens. Maybe you've tried to fight the good fight and managed to steer your kids away from the allure of modern technology, or maybe, like many others, you've given into the incessant begging. Either way, your day is probably coming.
These games, these videos, these devices that let a kid do practically anything they can dream up without barely lifting a damn finger, it's all way more powerful than every single one of us and our antiquated ideas of childhood combined.
We can't keep our kids completely away from technology—that's just unrealistic. But what we can do is continue to reflect upon the most significant ways in which all of this 21st-century technology seriously messes up our child's mind ... or their heart.
I've taken it upon myself to list the three worst ways that modern technology ruins a kid's life. I doubt I'm alone in seeing things this way.
1. Goodbye, Attention Span
Every time I have to repeat a request to one of my kids and watch them promptly ignore me for a screen, a part of my soul dies.It makes me sad and crazy at once. Attention spans are being chiseled away at, hard, by short bursts of cyber entertainment that require very little brainpower to digest.
And it's not just kids, either. If you ask me, more and more adults are losing their ability to focus on anything but themselves during person-to-person conversation anymore. It's a result of all of the time spent focusing the human mind on nothing but the screen in front of us. No human interaction required. We have a desire and we have it fulfilled. It spoils us. Most people that you end up talking to in a bar or at the park or wherever, they talk about themselves. They never ask a single question about you.
This is my worst nightmare for my own kids—that they'll end up unable to even converse with a fellow human without making it all about themselves.I don't want to forbid my sharp, cool children from taking advantage of the trillions of good things about technology these days. But there are definitely times I actually want to lock my three kids away in a tall tower with no Wi-Fi for the rest of time.
Before long, they'll go online and they'll never sign off until we're long dead and gone. That's the scariest thought of them all.
2. Vapid Heroes R Us
Good lord, have we ever sunk to new lows as a human race. Have you seen some of these people that kids are worshipping on YouTube and the internet these days? I KNOW it makes me sound grouchy and old, but I swear I can't help it! I grew up worshipping rock 'n' rollers and athletes, and while those aren't the types of people we should necessarily tell our own kids to look up to, at least musicians and sports stars could actually do something, you know?! Like, they could write songs or hit home runs.
Come back, Billy Idol. I never realized how much I want my kids to look up to you.
More and more, I notice my own kids excited to watch young folks on TV or the internet whose sole purpose in life seems to be soaking themselves in a bathtub full of Nutella. WTF. We actually worship idiocy now? The revolution is being led by giggling 20-somethings with a penchant for pranks and stupidity, and big corporations are dying to pay them for it.
I wanted better for my kids. For our kids.
3. Creeps, Bullies, Truthers and Trolls
Perhaps the most horrifying aspect of anything having to do with all this is the fact that we know we can't keep our own beloved children from stepping out into the dark wilderness of the internet eventually. It is inevitable. It is a certainty. It is their destiny.
Each beautiful miracle of a baby we create will ultimately, in about 7 to 10 years, wander directly into the kingdom of the worst dregs of society the world has ever known. Before long, they'll go online and they'll never sign off until we're long dead and gone. That's the scariest thought of them all.
All three of my kids will soon be entering that cyberworld full of haters and evil freaks whose every aim and desire in this world is to hurt, scare and humiliate their fellow man. I get so freaked out, knowing what I know, thinking about my own kids stumbling into some of the awfulness I've seen online. The reality of watching a child being bullied or frightened in cyberspace is another reality altogether. It can ruin a life—plain and simple. It can even end one.
I get more scared of someone hurting one of them than I ever feared for myself. It feels like there's almost nothing we can do. We talk to our kids, tell them what we know, ask them to be honest with us, to trust us to be a guiding force. But kids are kids. They're simple and pure until they're not anymore. I don't want that to happen.
I want to go back in time. Except I don't.
I want to lock my kids in the basement to keep them safe. Except I don't.
I want to pull the plug on all this technology. To hell with the rest of you. Except I don't. I really don't.
But I'm desperate for answers at one of the scariest times of my life. Just like my mom was a long time ago, and her mom long before that, I guess.