image from apple.com
In an increasingly digitizing era, technology appears to evolve at warp speed. This evolution strikes me in a couple of ways. On one hand, new technology and the capabilities brought with it such as connection and ease excites me. (As a blogger, how could I not delight at these innovations?) Yet sometimes I drag my feet about new technology, dragging along with it a nostalgia for “simpler times” that is perhaps more romanticized than real. I am finding that these tendencies carry over into my thoughts on technology and parenting as well.
This Christmas, A (age 8) got an iPod touch from her biological mother. Within wireless service, an iPod touch pretty much has all the capabilities of an iPhone (texting, internet, apps, etc.) save for the actual phone calling. But it has face time, the i-version of Skype. I can see the potential benefits: easier connection with one parent when with another, staying in touch with friends, a means of accessing help in an emergency (as long as within wireless range!) educational apps, and play. Yet at first, and still somewhat, it made me uneasy.
As a new iPhone user myself, I know the vast amount of information A now has access to, and frankly, it scares me. But that isn’t my only concern. After an iPod touch, will toys seem a bit irrelevant? A limited cell phone would have served well as a stepping-stone, and in an emergency, more useful. An iPod touch just seems a little adult for an eight-year-old. A book recommendation from one of J’s sisters flashes into my head: Six Ways to Keep the “Little” in Your Girl by Dannah Gresh. I haven’t read the book, and as it is written from a seemingly conservative Christian perspective, I am sure I would take issue with a number of points. However, the concept of giving kids a childhood is of interest. Is an iPod touch moving A further away from girlhood too soon?
Yet, I also have to ask myself, am I just being persnickety? Overprotective? Am I just behind the times? Not progressive enough? Do I wish my childhood had been more tech savvy? After learning that both A’s cousin, and a good friend of hers, KK (both her age) also got iPod touches for Christmas I have to ask myself, is this the new IT item for kids in this age range? When I was A’s age, I longed for a pogo ball. And for the toy versions of technology, not the real thing. Yet she is growing up in an age and space much different from my own experience. Everyone’s childhood is different – I’m just wondering will A’s have a pod at the center of it? And if so, to what consequence and benefit?
Another selfish reason I have for pause about my initial reluctance comes from the connection that A and I have made via the i-technology. Though I love A as much as I love E, my relationship with her has been harder. Yet after she got the iPod touch, I felt a profound shift in our relationship. All of a sudden she was smiling when I took pictures of her and even texting me. I felt a particular glow when she reached out to me over text from a sleepover to let J and I know about something she had forgotten. Part of me wants to thank Steve Jobs’ family myself for helping facilitate this (even if temporary) change. As with many things, my working conclusion is that the iPod is neither angel nor devil, but a much more complicated phenomenon to be navigated with thought and reflection.
J and I are in the process of talking about limits (right now iPod touch goes to sleep when she goes to bed). As so much parenting is, this is new territory. We’ll see how pod parenting goes . . .