Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Ready for a little "back in my day?"

I had this conversation yesterday about technology and whether or not it's a good thing. I could beat the topic to death with all the trite reasons technology will kill us all, but I have something more personal than the general cyberpunk apocalypse theories.

I hate how technology is depriving my cousins of their childhood.

I have three young cousins, two 8-year-olds and a 6-year-old, all boys. They own about every technological device able to be operate by a child their age. I think they learned to read on Leapsters. When we have family parties, they play the XBox or the Wii. If those aren't available, they play their Nintendo DS's.

If they didn't come equipped with any of their own gaming systems, they borrow an iPhone from one of their mothers and play the apps, sometimes one plays while the others watch and sometimes they play their own separate games. When they were younger, we would go to family dinners in restaurants for some occasion and their parents would bring a portable DVD player for them to watch.

I'm noticing this more and more as they get older. These kids interact with each other so much less than I did with my cousins. In my childhood, my cousins and I would always be playing together. We would make up games, hide under tables, play hide and seek, ask my grandpa to take us outside, or when there was no other choice, play some rhyming game to pass the time. We did a lot, and I wouldn't trade those memories for anything in the world.

Now, there's this prevalence of all this STUFF. We didn't have a computer in the house until I was about 5. To me, every piece of technology I saw was amazing. I remember when a family friend showed me how to write my name on Microsoft Paint at my uncle's house. I thought it was the most amazing thing. I got a Gameboy when I was 7 and thought it was awesome, but because I was so used to playing in my pretend kitchen or with my dolls, the Gameboy didn't consume my life. I would play it with the carpool kids on the way to school and would get a little annoyed that all they ever did was play Gameboy. Sometimes I would secretly wish they would forget to bring theirs.

When I was 7, I had a Gameboy and a few Tonka/Dr. Seuss/Magic School Bus computer games. I didn't have a DS, a Wii, an XBox 360, a Playstation 3, a cell phone, an iPod Touch, a shelf of computer games, a portable DVD player, and a Club Penguin subscription. And I definitely didn't bring all these things to Thanksgiving.

For me, technology was a novelty. For them, it's a lifestyle. When you always expect something to be there, why should you know what to do when it's gone? And if you have it, why would you pretend you don't? If we had all that stuff when I was little, we would have sat there and played it and never really got to know each other. That thought makes me sad.

My cousins the same age as me do this now, too. They bring their iPods and play the apps. All we ever do is play apps on iPod Touch. I resent this and wish they would leave them home so we could just hang out, talk, joke around, get to know each other. I stayed so close to my cousins for my whole life, and I feel like as we get older, we grow further apart. The few times we do see each other, I don't like to spend them playing Jelly Car.

I wish all kids could have the opportunity to be kids, to use their imaginations to create their own fun instead of having it displayed on a silver screen at the touch of a button. This technology craze is all about money, but some things are much more valuable.



  1. Yeah, gameboys and things are great, but I think they should be more reserved for when there isn't another kid around to play with. Personally, I think family dinners should be absent of gameboys/dvd players/ etc entirely. It's important to learn how to interact with other people, and it's important to learn how to occupy yourself when you don't have your gameboy with you.

    I think a lot of parents give their kids this stuff to play with so they don't have to play with them. I had this stuff my entire life, but the only time I really played when friends were around was when we were playing against each other or something, and doing anything but eating at the table was a big no-no.

    With Nick, it's totally different. He would play his games even with friends there, even when they had nothing to do.

    I think things like that are a bad result of technology. (I say that while playing Pokemon Heart of Gold in the background)

  2. Haha yeah I know what you mean. I think that stuff should be for playing when you're by yourself. Like my mom was trying to figure out what to give them for Easter. She said she really doesn't know since they already have everything, they aren't impressed by anything.

    You got Heart of Gold? ^_^ YAY.

    And I made the comments have to be approved now because I kept getting so much spam.

  3. I had even less technology than you did, Juliana. And yes, you're right (as always) about how kids no longer have childhoods.
    My childhood revolved around my massive collection of Barbie dolls and their accessories along with many, many, books. A lot of that stuff is still at my grandma's house.
    Before I was ten, the only electronic gadgets that I had were an Easy Bake oven, a Password Journal, a toy ice cream truck,and a Lite Brite board. At ten, my parents got our first computer and I've slowly entered the world of technology since then. My cousins and I didn't hang out together that much, but they didn't have a lot of technology either.
    Melissa, I couldn't agree with you more. Parents ARE avoiding playtime with their kids. I don't think they realize what they're doing until it's too late.

  4. Ew, spam. That's obnoxious.

    But, yeah, I have that problem with Nick. I get him stuff and he's like "WOW, THAT SOUNDS LIKE FUN" but he always goes for the video games first.

    Most of that is my fault, though, since I don't have time to do the stuff with him. I can't wait until summer~~~ Add making toy models and painting to the list XD

  5. Yeah I think it is a lot of parents trying to avoid playing with their kids. My parents did a lot with me. On the days my mom didn't work, she would take me to the park and stuff. And I think all my dad did when I was little was come home from work, eat dinner, play dollhouse, make forts, or color with me, and then go do work again late at night. I never realized until I was older how great he was for all of that.