Overwhelmed by Technology

Before I begin my rant observation about being overwhelmed by technology, please allow me to express my love for the iphone camera and for allowing me to take the above photo.  It was shot on a whim from whence I write this story (with a pencil and paper by the way…mostly ‘cos I’m afraid of getting sand into any computerish thing…when will they invent a sand -resistant computer anyway?).  I am sitting on the warm sand at the edge of the Pacific Ocean on a calm and sunny day, listening to the warbling aqua-marine waves and the free-flowing laughter of my children and their friends building a sandcastle.

However, if you think there is not extensive competition to this idyllic scene, then little do you know the upcoming generation.  My family, I include everyone except myself and the cats – and they just might be playing computers on the sly – are completely obsessed with this on-line game entitled Runescape.  I’ve half a mind to rename it Ruinscape, as its fantasy play is attempting to pull my husband and children away from any interaction with the real world whatsoever.

Not to mention the multiple other “game” devices on offer, XBox, PSP, Wii etc….  I hear the 1950’s mother in my voice.  Those hippie kids taking LSD, Xstacy…  Hmmmm… But what’s in a name anyway, right?

On the other hand, there are some educational games called Jumpstart and Reader Rabbit that teach reading and math skills in the most creative ways possible.  Recently, one of my kids told me they were going to write a book, clearly influenced by the fantasy play on Runescape.  I just read an article in last Sunday’s LA Times about a girl who needed to learn the Periodic Table.  She downloaded an app. on her Ipad, thinking she would just peruse through it as a way to help her sleep.  Two hours later, her imagination was exploding with ideas on the fascinating world of the elements.

When I am not busy attempting to understand and come to terms with how much or how little access my kids and their friends should have to this technology, I am listening to messages on my answering machine, my cell-phone voicemail, my e-mail, my Facebook.  Seriously, I can still remember calling someone and if the phone kept ringing, I simply tried calling later.  (I think that last sentence was my Grandma Gus talking through me.)  Did I mention texting and on-line chat or comments on my blog?

Oh yes, my kind, friendly reader… herein lies the supreme irony and paradox of my rant…err, I mean observations.  Whilst the multiple forms of communication numb and overwhelm me, I am passionate about the instant access of a blog post.  I love the comments.  I want more.  Do you agree?  Do you disagree?  Wanna drag me into the 21st Century?  Let me know.  Immediately!  Especially you, Deanna!   I ran into Deanna on the beach and we went into double rant mode.

Then there is the feeling of inadequacy.  My learning curve is antiquated.  Imagine how my mom must feel?  She has to buy a new computer.  Just the thought of that is driving her towards a migraine.  I sympathize. I don’t get the pings, the trackbacks and the widgets.  Ooh!  Nor does my spell-check apparently.  Now, if I deny my children much of this new technology, won’t I be holding back on an intrinsic part of their education?  I swear, my children were born holding a mouse in their hands. Now, just imagine what your grandma would think of your child-rearing habits if she just read that sentence.

I vowed before I ever became a parent that I wouldn’t be one of those mothers who just didn’t “get the next generation”.  However, I have been blind-sided.  I don’t know whether to love it or hate it.  I grapple with how to control it.  I am distinctly aware of how it is trying to control me.  I am wary of embracing it too much.   Yet, if I live a technology free lifestyle, I will lose all access to my children’s way of thinking.  If I keep my kids away from technology they will no longer fit into society (or at least the society we live in).  How much is too much?  How little is too little?

My iphone got the Black Ring Of Death over the weekend.  Our Xbox was diseased with the Red Ring Of Death last year.  My computers, poor babies, have succumbed to random virus’s.  When was I ever naive enough to think that all parenthood involved was keeping one’s children healthy?

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