As I sat in Macca’s having coffee a while back, I watched an entire family at a nearby table expertly shovelling their fries and burgers hand to mouth without ever once taking their eyes off their phones. It was an eerie sight as silent mechanical arms dipped up and down feeding the open mouths like those clowns you see at a fair.
Smartphones are wonderful, wonderful things.
Many of you reading this right now are parents to the ‘Linkster Generation’, or ‘Gen Alpha’ – your children practically slid out and requested fingerprint access to your phone while their cords were being cut (no app for that yet!)
Folks, WE are the pioneers of smartphone etiquette. We need to think about what we are teaching our children, and we have to be proactive about it, otherwise we’re going to raise a bunch of vacuous, self-absorbed, zombified, over-sexualised, duck-faced children that can’t string a sentence together or make eye contact, and who think that laughing is just saying the words ROFL ROFL ROFL over and over again.
It’s not going to be easy. Competing for our children’s attention puts us up against the Kardashians, SpongeBob SquarePants, The Bachelor, Miranda Sings and a host of other vain, loud and annoying people banging their own drums to be heard on YouTube. Annoying Orange comes to mind (my children’s e-vintage). I remember telling my girls that I’d rather pour boiling wax into my ears than ever hear that voice again. Fasten your seatbelts because every minute there are infinite amounts of new ‘gauge-out-your-own-eyeballs’ garbage being uploaded to YouTube and coming to a screen near you.
Do I sound negative? I don’t mean to sound negative. I adore technology, and I love it all the more now I’ve gotten better at filtering out the rubbish and guiding my children towards more beneficial activities like watching compilations of cats with boxes stuck on their heads and shrieking goats interrupting pop songs.
There’s never been a more creative time in history. I’m envious and in awe of this generation who have both the unlimited energy and access to virtually inexhaustible ways of expressing themselves. While we were all playing Donkey Kong and getting makeup tips from Dolly magazine, this generation is rocketing to viral stardom from age four, singing Adele flawlessly in fully contoured makeup, from their Pinterest-worthy bedrooms while sipping on a chia seed green protein smoothie they just posted on Instagram #ChildGenius.
My advice to you – EMBRACE IT because it’s not going away! I’m blown away by how creative my kids are and I love them for teaching ME stuff! I adore being a part of it all and keeping up with the latest trends. Being interested in what interests my kids brings us closer together. Get involved – you may start out teaching them, but give it a few years and they’ll be teaching you. Take part in silly challenges like who can make the best iMovie trailer using only your four cats and Arnold the Guinea Pig. Let them take Snapchats of you with your head in a piece of bread. Watch that hilarious hamster get flung out of its wheel 500 times in a row… It’s worth every minute.
While Buckminster Fuller said that humanity is, “…acquiring all the right technology for all the wrong reasons”, I believe as parents we have a unique opportunity to utilise all the very best aspects of technology while simultaneously creating meaningful, relationally rich, social environments for our children. I’m positive we can make technology work for all the right reasons even if it means driving your kid around looking for Pokémon or using an app to make virtual mud pies. Just do it together.
Welcome to the iGeneration!
About the author – Leonie is mum to two lovely teenage girls. She loves to illustrate, write and be creative in her home in the beautiful Blue Mountains. Leonie has 4 cats and aspires to one day become a crazy cat lady.