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That’s Just the Way It Is


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ids need to learn about computers early.” “It’s the way of the world.” “That’s just the way it is.” You hear this a lot, right, dads? Especially if you voice your skepticism of anything technological, you’re immediately tied to a stake and lit afire, people circling you, calling you a heretic and (incorrectly, if we’re being picky, which we are) a Luddite. Hang in there. It’s all lies. Now, before we go any further, some disclosure: I subscribe to Wired magazine. I enjoy reading instruction manuals. I like the smell of new plastic. I am man. I like technology, and I like gadgets. Apart from an ancient iPod, my most recent gadget is a Discman (I’m a dad, after all; my limit to current technology got taken back a couple of decades the moment my firstborn gasped into the world; guess it happens to all of us). But, still. I’m no extremist. People will tell you that your kid might as well play video games, your toddler might as well hang out on the computer, your baby might as well watch television. You really have no say in it: we’re a plugged-in society. Wrong. You do have a say in it. You’re the parent; Mac computers are not. To clarify, I’m not an anti-screen crusader. My kids watch TV now and again, and that’s fine. I have fond memories of staying up late to watch a special television show on certain Friday nights. But I think the less screen time, the better. However, let me make this abundantly clear: you shouldn’t care what I think, and I don’t really care what you think about screen time. Because everyone has an opinion, and most of those opinions are hysterical. But here’s what I do want to say. If you don’t believe your kid should be watching television or using a computer or playing video games, don’t forget that you have the power to stop them. My kids don’t even know what a video game is. And that hasn’t been hard at all. We just don’t let them play them. Easy, really. Again, the point isn’t if games or television are good or bad. The point is you can, quite easily, still have some power. Look,

we’ve all been fooled by Apple’s advertising and packaging, and we all think we need a whole lot of stuff that we don’t. I understand. But the idea that kids need to learn how to use computers while they’re young is completely false. It’s never too late. Senior citizens learn how to set up email accounts.

Dadspeak GREG PRATT My iPod is so stupid I can figure it out when I’m asleep. Its home page has colourful, bubbly icons you press with your finger. It looks about as advanced as a sheet of princess stickers from McDonald’s. (Incidentally, tech is losing a bit of its masculinity, isn’t it? I remember modems sounding like barbed wire on a chalkboard, harsh white-textblue-screen visuals, and needing several boot disks just to load up a computer. That stuff had muscle. Nowadays we have stickmen apps with the word “stuff” in their name, blasting at us in neon colour that we delicately swipe with our fingers. If the tech world wants me to be showing my son this stuff, they’ve got to rough things up a bit before we can even begin negotiations.) Anyway, the point is kids don’t need to learn this stuff when they’re two. Maybe you want yours to, but they don’t need to. They can take a one-hour primer when they’re 19, and be ready to go. That’s that. So don’t tell me my toddler needs an iPad—especially if you’re trying to sell me an iPad app for my toddler. The power is in your hands, not in an advertiser’s hands or society’s hands. You call the shots, not everyone else. That’s just the way it is. Greg Pratt is the father of two children and a local journalist and editor. His writing has appeared in, among other places, Today’s Parent, Wired, Revolver, and Douglas.

Profile for Island Parent Group

January 2014 Island Parent  

Winter Programs Guide

January 2014 Island Parent  

Winter Programs Guide