Tuesday, September 16, 2014

It's Hip to Be Square

Well, butter my butt and call me a biscuit! (That's southern for "I'll be a monkey's uncle!").  Steve Jobs and I had something in common.  According to a recent New York Times article, Mr. Jobs was a low-tech parent.  Contrary to public opinion and vivid imaginations, Steve's home was not high-tech heaven--with touch screens on every wall and an iPad on every nightstand. In fact, he emphatically noted that he and his wife set boundaries on the amounts of technology used by their kids at home.  What?

The piece goes on to say that many technology CEOs and venture capitalists report that "they strictly limit their children’s screen time, often banning all gadgets on school nights, and allocating ascetic time limits on weekends."  They are quick to point out that with age does come increased accessibility--coupled with accountability and responsibility.  Their kids complain loudly; but, these techno-savvy parents are aware of "the dangers" of saturation--content issues, cyber-bullying, and the potential for addiction to the device and/or the media are on their forefront of concern.  The device-dependency is what engenders the greatest pause among the parental units.  "I've seen it {addiction} in myself", says Chris Anderson, former editor of Wired and now one of those Techno-CEOs.  Wow.

As you might recall, I own a Motorola Razr Flip for which I can re-coup a whopping $.12 on a trade-in allowance.  It makes and takes phone calls.  My Philosopher has a tablet, useful for reading heady articles (Him), playing Words with Friends (Me), and watching Seinfeld re-runs (Us).  There are no televisions or any other screened items, other than windows, in our bedrooms.  And, we can thank our local Cub Scout pack (and their popcorn sales) for rewarding "He-who-is-now-taller-than-I" with a small apple-emblazoned device! 

We don't have cable television.  It's not a weird home-schooler thing--it's David (Me, again!) doing battle with Goliath (a major cable provider that is teamed up with AT&T--ahem) and "winning" after a rather interesting dispute and gobs of misinformation.  But, seriously, between NetFlix, Crackle, and the rest, we manage to survive.  I know, I know.  The dinosaurs are playing in the backyard--next to the outhouse.  

But, guess what? We do just fine.  We read books.  We play games.  We play outside--or rather, I lay in the hammock, reading books, while they play outside.  And, we do set limits on their daily computer usage.  I will openly confess that I need to be better about not checking my e-mail every 15.2 minutes.

Of course, when we go out to eat, and there's a flat-screen tuned in to ESPN in the restaurant, we lose the boys for awhile.  Their blissed-out gazes just scream, "I'm techno-deprived" and meanwhile, we can talk about their Christmas presents and they have no clue. And, thanks to the kindness of some dear friends who (1) enjoy a good football game and; (2) enjoy themed food menus, we have yet to miss out on a major football event.  

It always makes me sad to see a couple--or a family, for that matter--seated around the table at some local eatery, together, but not really.  Each one has their own device--from the preschooler with the iPad, the 'tween texting their BFF--to the adults chatting on their own phones (with different people, of course).  Then, they all pause for the perfunctory picture--which is posted, texted, Tweeted, and Instagrammed for all the world to see.  Proof that they are out having fun.  Together.  Yeah.  

Do I occasionally pine for the convenience of a "smarter" phone?  Yes, I would love to have instant access to my 40% off Hobby Lobby coupon or be able to add a book to my "Want to Read" list on Goodreads while browsing in my favorite bookstore.  But, I know myself and I could easily get lost in all of the other "life management" tools available.  I'm an extrovert, for goodness sake, how could I not answer this life-altering text about lipstick colors?  Many folks tell me that once my guys are teenagers, I'll be singing a different tune. And, they may be right.  I may be crazy.

But, for now, I'll just stick with Huey Lewis.  It's hip to be square.


  1. I posted this one on fb.:)
    I mean the article link .
    Thanks for sharing .

  2. The article is so telling and thought-provoking! Glad you enjoyed it~

  3. Yes, yes, yes!!!!!!! Flip phone owners unite!!!!!!