Yesterday I came home to find my eldest offspring not only loading the dishwasher, but wiping the counters after cleaning the entire kitchen. She told me she was in there anyway doing her chores, so she might as well pitch in. There was hugging, possibly tears. I congratulated her on her consideration and responsible attitude. I congratulated myself on my kick-ass parenting skills.
Later that evening, she sat down primly and asked to speak with me. “I was hoping I could have some clarification on the iPod issue.” That is a direct quote. I have to give her props for waiting a while after the cleaning and for her oh-so-professional delivery. Also the repeated use of the word “responsible” in her subsequent speech.
In summary, “Can I get an iPod Touch please? I will save up my money and pay for it myself. I know you said you would discuss it with Dad, but it has been 13 hours since I last asked and a lot of things have changed since then. For instance, I am now very ‘considerate and responsible’ (this is my paraphrase). Please see the exhaustive list of reasons I have written on the blackboard explaining what a good idea this is.”
Can I please get an iPod Touch?
It is the only question that matters to our 9 and 11-year-old this week. Two of their best friends have them. Apparently so do “like, EVERYONE I know Mom.” Which I sincerely doubt – I know one family that doesn’t even have a home computer or *gasp* email. Technophobes aside, this is an issue for us already, no matter how much I want to pretend otherwise.
I think back fondly on the good old days when times were simpler. Community was face-to-face: “Gather round kinfolk, it’s time for ye old hymn sing.” And problems were straightforward. “Pa, them coons done et all our muffins agin. Git the shotgun!”
“Ma, Old Yeller’s done got bit by a rabid coon! NOOOOOOOO!”
Okay, so even pioneer days weren’t a fantasy of perfection. Life isn’t Little House on the Prairie, for which my husband is infintely grateful. Especially after an entire chapter about making candles and two on maple syrup.
I blame myself.
As I sit here writing my blog on my laptop, with my iPhone close at hand, I am keenly aware of why my children are geared toward technology. And I can’t blame them.
For those who do not have their very own walking catalogue of features to sing its praises, the iPod Touch is not a phone. It is everything else.
This weekend, they used their friends’ iPods to make an adorable movie (complete with soundtrack), take pictures, listen to christian music, play games (some educational, some silly), email a friend, and watch stupid animal movies on youtube.
Nothing evil, nothing scary – except for, maybe, the youtube videos. That talking dog is creepy.
We have a lot to discuss. Can net nanny be put on an iPod? Can we turn off the texting function? Or all internet? Are we ready for them to have their own e-mail address (with copies of everything sent to us)? How much screen time is too much? How closely should we moniter it? How long will it take them to save up the money? What if they start making talking dog videos?
Insert answer here.
I left space here for the thoughtful, balanced, wise answer. But I don’t have one. For now the answer is no, but I’m not completely against it. Perhaps I should let them know the cleaning helped?
We’ve talked to a number of other parents we respect and their advice ranges from:
“Yes, this is a reasonable purchase for your pre-teen. With the appropriate boundaries and monitering it can be a useful tool. Earning the money themselves will be a good experience. Plus, they will stop fighting over your iPhone (okay, that last part is from me).”
“Are you kidding me? Useful for training as obese couch potatoes and cyber bully fodder. Buy them a candle making kit instead. And the box set of Little House on the Prairie while you’re at it.”
And both sides sound reasonable to me. I’m not sure…
So here’s me, flummoxed.
What do you think? We respect every parent’s right to decide this for their own children, so use your nice words. Should children be allowed personal technology? What kind and at what ages?