There’s no denying that modern life has led to the here and now; a world where everyone (or almost everyone) is plugged in. Computers, laptops, cell phone and tablets are seen and used everywhere with a very small demographic remaining who have either never laid hands on one of those or never will. Our children are no different, with modern life making it almost impossible for someone to raise a child without the use of electronic devices. One good example I can provide is when my son start second grade and his school demanded that we provide him with a device to do his homework on. This blew my mind and I immediately opposed it, as it’s one thing to pay for supplies that are needed but entirely another when you’re expected to buy them an expensive electronic device just to do homework.
My opposition was not well-received, as I was told that any device could be used, including my own cell phone. I don’t know about y’all, but I’m not a fan of providing my personal cell to anyone. Beyond the fact that I use it myself as my personal phone line, there’s also my email access, games, alarm, scheduler and social media. My phone is my phone, purchased with my own money for my own purposes. The presumption of being told I can simply hand it off to anyone else is ludicrous to me. But here we are. I ended up giving my son one of the older version cell phones I had, since I never turn them in. He now uses this not only for his school apps but for a few simple games and some streaming services as well. This is combination with the Nintendo Switch we bought him last summer to keep him occupied on our trip out East.
The issue is that my children are fast-becoming people who can’t live without these devices. As a result, my 8-year old, who should be outside, running, playing, climbing and riding a bike, spends his down time on his back or lying on his stomach, watching Netflix Kids and Disney+, playing Minecraft and unfortunately binge-watching Minecraft videos on YouTube. The unfortunate byproduct of this standard is that Nathan is becoming a bit of a lazy shit. Gets home from school, drops his shit and grabs his devices. Wakes up in the morning, walks himself out of the bedroom and grabs his devices. All weekend, stays on his devices. Drives me absolutely batty!
I grew up on the Northern shores of New Brunswick, where I spent my down time in the forests, swimming in brooks and playing outside. I put so many kilometres on my bike that I usually ended up needing a new one every couple of years. Maybe that had something to do with my growth, though. My point is, we’ve been trying to get Nathan more physically involved with the everyday life outside the house. Considering we have some pretty nice weather on occasion, our new standard has been that if he wants his device, he needs to spend an hour outdoors, first. Not if there’s a snow storm or bad weather, obviously. But in general and overall.
Our idea has also been poorly received. Considering that yesterday morning, I was able to sleep in quite late (pretty bad that between 9 and 10 am is now considered late) before my toddler woke me by scaring the living shit out of me, I didn’t start out my Saturday on the best note. But I made it clear to Nathan that he was getting no screens until he spent an hour outdoors. In true, teenage form, he decided it was a better and easier option to curl up in a blanket and sulk than just go outside. It was -3 degrees. That’s almost cut-off jean shorts weather. Never mind the fact that the time he used to sulk about not getting his screens, he could have easily burned through an hour outside.
Look, I get it… It’s 2023 and everyone and everything is tethered to the electronic frontier. There’s no living completely device-free because no matter how you live, you’ll eventually need technology in some given way, shape or form. I just don’t want technology being the only way my children experience life. Ultimately, he conceded and went outside. Although I don’t like that it turned into a negotiation, at least I got him outside. I think it’s one of those scenarios where the parent gets to say, “Someday you’ll thank me…” ☯️
8 thoughts on “The Matrix Has You…”
I have older relatives who NEVER got into using electronics. Some of them don’t own a cell phone and still use an old land line phone plugged into a wall at home, so when they leave the house to go shopping or traveling you can’t reach them until they return home.
I now have a coworker that has 2 young kids, with no electronics. We recently had some bad snow storms last month with school & work being cancelled for a few days. His kids had to either read a book, play old-fashion board games together or go play in the snow.
So yes, life without electronics can be done. It just depends on what you want life to look like.
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My mother has never set hands on a computer and has only in recent years started using an archaic flip-phone at my request so I could be reached if something happens to her or my father. Unfortunately, she’s limited in her interactions with the world and always has to have someone else conduct business for her because she refuses to step foot online. Many people have the illusion of thinking they live without electronics and technology but for the most part, it hinders them in some way…
Not so sure I completely buy the hinder part. The internet simply has us brainwashed into accepting it’s the only way to do things. The local pizza place doesn’t take phone orders anymore for example. You can still go in and order however. It’s a better trade-off than you think when you truly understand how much information is given away and how much privacy is lost in exchange for mild convenience.
If a relative grew up without electronics and learned to live without the instant convenience, how are they really hindered by it now? Sure they have to stop at the utility office to pay a bill in person…whoop-de-doo, to them that’s normal.
Unfortunately, as automation and electronic access to everything continues, it does become a hindrance. In my mother’s case, she never minded going out to run her errands but now she needs to depend on other family members for many of them due to the fact that a lot of things can no longer be done in person (at least where she lives). But I feel that we’re moving away from the actual point of my post…lol
Maybe you remember this, but in the 1979-1981 “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century” TV show there was a prophetic scene at the end of the opening episode. After Buck (Gil Gerard) has cleared his name and saved the day, the Earth government says they want him to work for them in an intelligence capacity. He asks what he has to offer that others don’t (not those exact words), apparently thinking being from the past would be a hindrance due to his lack of familiarity with the galaxy.
They tell him that since birth, everyone has been fingerprinted, scanned 100 ways, etc… to the point that everybody is known (searchable) to everyone. He’s a complete unknown, able to do things others had no chance of. I was a kid at the time and scoffed mightily thinking how far fetched that was. 40 years later and we’re already most of the way there. If it’s not done willingly for the sake of convenience or vanity (in the case of social media), it’s cajoled as being “for the children!”.
I could write an encyclopedia set on the data mining that happens on anything connected to the internet. The profiling that they can do based on that data mining is unholy, and by extension, so is the manipulation that follows based on that profile.
Yeah, I remember that show. It can be frightening to see how much of the future is rooted in stuff we’ve seen in sci-fi for decades.
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Sci-Fi writers are “simply” good at seeing what’s popular at the time, and extending that, and it’s potential consequences out into the future. 🙂
Of course, saying “simply” is about like that scene in one Sherlock Holmes novel where he’s finally cajoled into revealing how he came to his deductions and the reply was to the effect of “now that I see what you did, it really is nothing”. Needless to say, he was indignant as his deductions required specialized training and far better observational skills than 99% of people have.