Vail Daily column: Irresistible technology
Vail, CO Colorado
The other evening my family had the pleasure of dining with some of our favorite people. They brought along a treat — their adorable granddaughter who is nearly two. Adults can get carried away with chatting and it can be a quite a long dinner for a toddler, but this bright little thing carried with her a perfect toy to keep her occupied.
Toy may not be exactly the term – it was an iTouch. Yes, her very own. Watching her navigate this mini computer made me a believer in evolution. I know I could not have been that ridiculously dexterous at two. She played puzzles and other learning games, remaining completely entertained the entire time we lingered over our cappuccinos.
Another friend just relayed that her daughter went off to college and has yet to purchase a single book. Students went to classes and simply downloaded everything required to their iPads. Amazing. Trees are applauding. Most children aren’t learning cursive in school anymore. Will it soon even be pointless to teach them to write? Even typing skills are becoming less necessary with voice recognition text.-
If I sound like I’m against all this technology, I’m definitely not. I bought one of the original Macintosh computers in the ’80s; it seemed so advanced yet there was no Internet then. I was first in line for each new Apple masterpiece, especially the iPod and iPhone. With four kids I may be Apple’s favorite customer. But I wish it were possible to maintain some sort of balance between kicking it old-school and cyber-savvy.
One of my favorite rituals when my kids were little was tucking them in at night. I was always exhausted by then, but I looked forward to sitting on the edge of their beds reading and singing. It was the single-most relaxing thing I did all day. I thought of their strengths and promise as they drifted into the Land of Nod. I feel sorry for parents of young kids today because, I know if my children had their iPods back then and they were able to choose between listening to tunes or being serenaded by my lullabies, the Beatles would have won out every time.-
I also used to go up and down three flights of stairs to tell the kids it was time for dinner; now I text them. Ditto for my teenagers’ morning alarm clocks. I wonder how many more calories I hang onto these days by avoiding all those stairs. Is technology making me fatter? That could explain a lot.
But, on the bright side, I have mini letters everyday from my kids in the form of text messages. When they were small and said something divinely sweet, it was gone as soon as it was spoken – there for just a moment to be filed away in my memory with the hope I would never forget it. Now, I have a priceless record of a thousand endearing things said. Even when we’ve all gone to bed, my son usually texts me right before he falls asleep. My daughter sends me a message nearly every day from school (naughty, I know) begging me to pick her up and take her to lunch or Denver or Hawaii.
I think it’s a mistake to resist the flow of invention. Kids need to be skilled in the ever-advancing tech-world and it’s probably unrealistic to imagine going outside to make mud pies can compete with the kind of stimulation they get from electronic devices, which is a shame. But, everyone requires stillness. Time to be bored; time to have independent thoughts; time to write. Time to figure something out rather than have it instantly appear on Google.
Edgar Allan Poe wrote the first detective stories and brilliant thrillers of his time; he was the first celebrated American writer. He wrote because he was compelled to put to ink his imaginings caused from an excess of solitude. Although no one would ever wish for a childhood like Mr. Poe’s, it now seems like a luxury rather than a curse to have all that free time. I wonder if literature would be different today if Mr. Poe had had access to an X-box.
Jill Marchione Papangelis is a freelance writer and mother of four. She lives in Edwards with her family. Send column suggestions or comments firstname.lastname@example.org.