It’s frightening to me how easy technology is for my kids to master.
There truly is something with this generation of children. Mastering mobile devices, laptops and tablets just comes easy to them and consequently their expectations for what technology can do are limitless.
Unlike previous generations, there are no intimidations or uncertainties to overcome. They simply pick up a device or turn on a computer and get down to business. If they can’t figure something out, they ask for help. When that assistance doesn’t come fast enough to meet their “everything needs to be now” mentality, they figure it out on their own by trying different things.
With my kids, the iPads, 3DS, laptops and Kindle devices have long been mastered, but the new fascination of late has been with cell phones.
The problem there is I admit to having a cell phone addiction, one that I am trying to get under control by not carrying it everywhere I go and intentionally leaving it behind when possible. However, if I just leave it around the house, it’s likely to be picked up by a little one and used for quite a while.
Beckett fancies himself a tech guru and for good reason. He can do everything on my phone that I can. I caught him the other day in the “Settings” tab trying to prank me by changing the thumbprint easy access code to his own finger. I quickly snatched it away, while admiring to myself his ingenuity and the lengths he was going to pull one over on me. He said he wasn’t trying to be mean. He just wanted to see my reaction.
That’s me getting a taste of my own medicine because I often do or say things to my kids and my wife just to see their reactions. For example, one morning this week, I led him to believe I was being nice by putting toothpaste on his toothbrush in the bathroom. In reality, when he went in to brush his teeth, there was applesauce on it. His facial expression was classic.
Back to technology, Beckett is a bigtime gamer and left on his own would spend most of his free time playing on devices, particularly if the weather is bad, while Carson prefers to watch videos and look at photos.
A big tech development in Carson’s world is that he now has a new device that will serve as his voice. He has previously been using an iPad — provided by the school system — with a speech generating application on it called ProLoQuo. That was suitable for a while but we were not strict enough with him on it and allowed him to use it for other apps and games. Therefore, he came to think of the device as something to have fun with rather than a necessity.
His new device — a tablet-like device from Dynavox — is solely focused on communication for the non-verbal or verbally challenged.
He knows perfectly well how to use it, as he has used a similar device or a version of its app in speech therapy for about a year, but he remains embarrassed about it because it makes him different. This is a real challenge that we will all have to overcome, but we know through tough love and fixating on requiring him to use the device for communication that eventually his disinclination will go away.
We have to be better parents by being less responsive to his needs and wishes, which we recognize without needing words. We must not answer his every body movement, whine and other gesture and respond only when he uses his voice (his computer).
It’s interesting to observe him every now and again get frustrated with the new device because he might not be able to find the word or phrase he wants. He tries to pretend he doesn’t know how to use it, but we know better because a few minutes before he had my phone in his hand, punching in my four-digit password and within seconds was flipping through Disney photos.
Quite often the kids will be at odds over who gets my phone. Beckett recently said he wanted to text his mom something. That was a guise to just play some music (his favorite new song is Pompeii by Bastille). Meanwhile, Carson threw a fit because he didn’t have one. There was a time when I could fetch a plastic Fisher-Price phone and he would be happy. Those days are long gone, however. Being lame, I told Beckett he could have it for one song and then Carson gets to look at Disney pictures.
That’s when the requests for his own cell phone start coming from Beckett, referring to classmates who have their own cell phones, for some reason. I dismiss those outright, saying the house policy is no cell phones until you start driving.
That’s easy for me to say now when they are 7 and 5 years old, of course.