LESS THAN THREEEEE
A Virtual Childhood
I knew the apocalypse was coming when I saw a three year old with an iPhone. We sat outside the bathroom of a Nordstrom and she expressed how overwhelmed she was at the number of text messages she had yet to respond to. Although I was happy that this three year old had a poppin’ social life, I left the situation feeling slightly dumbfounded.
I didn’t get my first cell phone until I was 12, and at the time, that was considered early for a cell phone. Although I am not advocating an isolated, backwards way of life a la Henry David Thoreau, I fear that children being raised in the era of the iPad will be too busy playing Angry Birds to really enjoy childhood; words with friends instead of board games-- you get it.
Childhood is really the only time that we are completely open to our surroundings. According to Professor Allison Gopnik of the University of California, Berkeley, children are more conscious than adults. They interact with their environment, unconsciously undergoing experiences that allow them to create their own maps of how the world works or how things relate. I wonder, however, if this process will still be the same if the child is fixated on mommy’s iPad rather than falling in the dirt, emulating pretend situations, or building monuments with toy legos? Will this technological era create a generation of anti social techies? http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2010/mar/11/what-babies-know-and-we-dont/?pagination=false
We all tend to agree that the twenty-first century is the best era to be living in: vaccinations and scientific achievements have extended our life span; education has made us enlightened about our impact on the world; reality TV has given us constant access to an immediate self-esteem boost. But, technology is so addictive; a study at Stanford proved that iPhone addiction is a legitimate pathology. Yes, I agree with keeping kids safe---but when is your 5 year old ever going to be alone without an adult? At what point is it rational to give a child a smart phone? Is this something that parents should be thinking twice about? Is being able to provide your young child with a smart phone a part of the American dream?
The "Is This Real Life?" Column, Samantha Salis: