Me’n’thekids had a chat about the Olden Days this week. We were all trying to remember a time before the internet, and I was having more difficulty than them in believing there was a time when I couldn’t do a google search.
It started after I’d made a simple statement and it suddenly hit me that even a few years ago my sentence would have been indecipherable nonsense. What I said was ‘Oooh, someone’s retweeted my tweet’.
We went on to make a list of all the other things we now say which would have been gobbledygook a few years back when the kids were little. ‘I’ve updated my facebook status’. ‘Maybe it’s the hard drive’. ‘Send me an email.’ ‘Text me’. Although when they were babies I probably did sometimes say ‘googlegooglegoogle!’ And ‘tweet tweet tweet!’
I’m pleased that all my children remember the dark days before all this new technology, the time we owned a clunky word processor which you had to type words into and then load the paper and press the Control + P buttons to make it print out. And to prove it, they still have amongst their possessions sheets of paper covered with endless lines of their first ‘writing’.
They all remember the first laptop coming in to the family, just as I remember a small black and white tv coming into my house when I was about 6.
In those days – they were so much simpler! – every child sat glued to the tv every evening after school and every Saturday morning – well in my neighbourhood they did anyway. And I don’t remember any parent agonising over whether we were watching too much. Of course we roamed the streets fighting in between, but parents weren’t saying ‘well as long as there’s a healthy balance between tv and roaming and fighting they’ll be ok’. It just wasn’t a debate. Maybe that was just my neighbourhood.
It’s good that we know more now, and the healthy balance thing is important, but it can make parents over-anxious about new technology. Back in the day when the automobile was first introduced, parents were lucky that they lived in a state of blissful ignorance, and didn’t have to spend their time worrying that their children would be losing their horse and cart skills.
Children are great, their brains adapt and learn from any culture they are brought up in, and because their brains are more plastic than ours they don’t get as fixed as we do on one thing. I’ve noticed that the generation ‘addicted’ to tv seems to be the one above mine, those who were introduced to it as adults, not as children.
All children need to be able to use the new technology of their generation and we needn’t be scared of that. As long as we still talk to them, obviously. And they still roam and fight as much as possible of course.