Thursday, 10 June 2010

iParent - an app to take the sting out of all that medldesome "parenting" business

Backseat parenting isn't a new phenomenon. Aupairs have been around for years, and forgive my judgemental stance against television, but so has Ceebeebies. If only there was a way to occupy the kids between the dinner table and the front room. Of course! A Nintendo DS!

There has always been a furore about children spending more time around more technology - kids with mobile phones freak even the most advanced tech head out, and seeing a toddler with a PSP brings me out in a cold jealous sweat. What are they playing on there, dot-to-dot? In my day we had V-Techs and the garden and pets and dolls and TV to entertain us and stop us from disturbing Daddy. Now there's so many gadgetrons it's hard to tell who's enjoying the technology more - do the kids want or appreciate these things? Or are parents just buying them because they think they're pretty cool?

I'm not planning on waging a war against kids IT products. Not at all. I wish I had had these things as a child, it would have meant that I wouldn't have had to try so hard to catch up in my IT class (using basic Microsoft software was a total minefield for me, I didn't have a PC until I was about 14, and even then we had Lotus. Suckstobeme). I'm concerned about the quality of the time they get to spend with their parents after reading this article in the New York Times. In between i-Playing and e-surfing and all those other things I could turn into humerous old-people-describing-new-technology words, time spent chatting and generally mucking about with parents is being squished into a smaller and smaller compartment. From watching Supernanny (I am currently unemployed) I have learned that some families need to actually set aside time to talk to their kids. Seems a bit sad, but perhaps some parents aren't that great at chatting to kids. According to Janice Im in the article, as more adults become inseperable from their Blackberries, so more children are excluded from their lives. “There’s something that’s so engrossing about the kind of interactions people do with screens that they wall out the world,” she said. “I’ve talked to children who try to get their parents to stop texting while driving and they get resistance, ‘Oh, just one, just one more quick one, honey.’ It’s like ‘one more drink.’ ”

It's hard to get people to admit they spend too much time on their various communication devices. I'd be the first to say that I spend more time on Twitter than I do socialising these days, but I have various excuses for this which I will not bore you with right now. To tell somebody that perhaps they should answer their child instead of checking their facebook updates is not only dangerous, but also unkind - we've all ignored somebody while we read a text message or answered a call. How do we start to rewire the way we think about social networking and the ever-invasive iPhone? How do we change our priorities from a bleep and a red flashing light to a person actually speaking to us in our very own faces? It's going to be difficult, but it needs to be done.

Perhaps there should be an Internets Anonymous group?


chestymorgan said...

OUCH! so bloody true though.I couldnt afford a pc and broadband until jnr turned 3 and taught her to use it fairly sharpish so we could fight over whose go it is and look at it together,rather than have her play 2nd fiddle.

She's desperate for a DS but haing seen the way other kids are 'lost' to them,5 is a touch too young I think;she can stick with being transfixed by her ant farm,fishes and farting for now

Jnr says to say I love you!

Katie said...

Awww :) Love you too Islababbi!

I love technology and think kids need to know all about computers and the like, but yah, play together! It's not a babysitter!

Anonymous said...

Amélie is about three and a half now and is getting good at Nintendogs. I was quite surprised but perhaps I'd just always imagined small children being useless at technological stuff. It's their chubby little fingers mainly.

She's good at kids games on the computer too and tries her best at playing Sonic but is flawed by the little hands big controller problem. I wish I had that excuse, I don't I'm just rubbish.

Great blog piece, but it's not just technology certain parents use to take the effort out of looking after their children. I've been to playgroups and soft play areas where parents just believe they can let their child loose whilst they have a sit, natter, cup of coffee, even read a book and most probably check their facebook on their iphone. Not seeing what their child is doing, how they're interacting, learning or misbehaving. Then people like me who actually go to these places so they can have a nice time with their child usually end up having to look after strangers children. Gets a bit annoying after a while.

Katie said...

I know what you mean, having worked in my mum's playgroup as a kid for nearly a year I've seen kids being dropped off in their PJs at 8am, parent's complaining that we didn't open earlier because they were pushed for getting to work on time. Shame. I thought having children was an experience, not an incinvenience.

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