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Divisive Devices

Last week, as Apple was rolling out its updated products, I got twitchy. I get twitchy about tech in general, which is wholly hypocritical considering I make my living on the Internet. I also tweet, use Instagram daily and post on Facebook. I also own an iPhone and am currently typing this paragraph on my MacBook Pro laptop computer device.

There is something to be said, perhaps, to being too close to something ... and recognizing how dangerous it is to overuse. Perhaps, then, that is why I have been such a maniac about policing screens these last nine years. They’re pretty much my life.

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As the age-old adage goes, which I am completely butchering, the guy who works at the sausage factory isn’t eating the sausage. And so it didn’t come as a surprise to me when I found out that Steve Jobs had a tech-free home life. Kind of like how everyone in LA works in television/forbids their kids from watching television. Ha ha, right?

Sausage factory, man.

I happen to think we are addicted to tech in a way that is potentially hazardous to our health, our relationships and our society, even though many of us benefit from social media, community, gaming … and all of the things that technological devices make possible, myself included. However, I believe that our need to constantly check and refresh and respond to a world that exists off the side of the boat is costing us our relationships with the humans in our homes and communities and focusing our attention away from each other, eye contact becoming an antiquated concept.

And, by the by, I am in NO way innocent. I have to put my phone in another room or else I will refresh and check things. I have to disable alerts in order to get work done and I have been called out on multiple occasions for checking my email when I should NOT be checking my email. But ... I am an old person and my kids are young people, and while I realize that tech is part of their lives in a way it was not for me as a child, I want to give them a childhood that is as screen-free as possible.

I don’t appreciate Apple using our kids as pawns in their strategic “get ‘em hooked young” marketing strategy.

That said, my husband owns an iPad and sometimes (against my wishes, ahem) he lets the kids play a game or two on it — until fighting ensues because someone did something and everyone wants to play something different and then Hal’s like, “NEVER AGAIN!” and takes it away and I’m like, “See?” and he’s like, “I know” and I’m like … “no comment.”

But … Hal and I have always been on the same page when it comes to purchasing the kids their own iPads, iPhones, iTouches — and that page is EN OH.

“You want to paint? Here are some brushes and some paper.”

“You want to race cars? Make a track with your hot wheels.”

“You want to play Angry Birds? Here are some dress ups. Go play outside and pretend to be angry and/or birds.”

Outside the house is a different story. A good deal of the kids’ school curriculum is iPad-based and I recently had to sign forms allowing Archer to have his own take-home MacBook Pro as a part of the fourth-grade School Apple Curriculum. (Although I did voice my trepidation to the teacher and also to Archer because DOES HE REALLY NEED HIS OWN COMPUTER? WHY AREN’T WE USING THIS MONEY TO HIRE AN ART TEACHER AND BRING MORE THEATRE INTO OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS? WE HAVE COMPUTERS AT HOME. HE DOES NOT NEED HIS OWN SCREEN WTF!??)

And, yes, I understand that it makes sense for students who do not have access to computers at home to have access to them through school, but Archer has access to computers at home AND at school.

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Archer’s teacher, who is my soul brother on this issue, ultimately convinced me to chill out re: Archer having his own school-assigned computer, but I am still skeptical and will remain so until I see how this all shakes out. I love me some Apple, don’t get me wrong. However. I don’t appreciate Apple using our kids as pawns in their strategic “get ‘em hooked young” marketing strategy. When parents are forced to attend a MANDATORY assembly where they must listen to an Apple spokesperson wax on about how amazing their products are, I’m going to have to call bullshit. Meanwhile, our school doesn’t even have a library. Every kid has an iPad but no library. Call me old fashioned, but WTF!?.

(If you’re not familiar with L.A. Unified School District’s controversial iPad roll-out, here are some links.)

This is not to say that I am right, by the way (my kids certainly don’t think so). But I feel like if I can delay the inevitable for a few more years, it’s worth it to try.

In the meantime, they’re just going to have to suck it up and play outside.


What about you guys? Do you have tech rules at home? Do you let your kids “play phone,” and at what age did you purchase your kid(s) their own devices? I’m also curious to know if your stance on tech coincides with your stance on television. P.S. Everyone does things differently and I am in NO WAY opposed to other parents doing what they need to do. We all pick our battles, as parents. Tech just happens to be mine.

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