Are Children Too Dependent on Technology?
IF I paid my parents a euro for every time they heard ‘where’s my Nintendo?‘ throughout my childhood, they could take early retirement and buy a holiday home in Miami.
It all began with the Game Boy Colour at the age of four, progressing to the Game Boy Advance, the Game Boy Advance SP, the Nintendo DS and finally, my precious Nintendo DS Lite. Every few years, my console was updated because a newer, bigger, better version had been released. Not only were my parents paying for the new consoles, they were also forking out hundreds of euros on new games every year. That was the price my generation’s parents had to pay for a peaceful car journey or the television for the night. Sounds expensive, doesn’t it?
Compare that to the price of keeping a child occupied today. One measly console does not suffice in a society where iPads and Xbox Ones are expected under the Christmas tree every year. That’s without including birthdays and special treats, with the possibility of a special treat being earned lurking around every corner.
What ever happened to the children of today? A child nowadays owns a minimum of a mobile phone, an iPod, a camera and some type of gaming console or other technology. When did this become acceptable? No, not even acceptable – it’s expected. Can I put this into context by telling you I got my first phone when I was 13, I didn’t own my own iPod until I bought one at the same age, the only cameras I possessed as a child were disposable Tesco ones and I was bloody delirious when my older cousins gave me their used Playstation when I was 10.
I’m 18 now and I turned out pretty alright. Believe it or not, it is possible for children to grow up without a screen permanently glued to their faces. In fact if I was a child growing up in today’s society, I don’t think I would turn out the 18-year-old I am today. I would be so engrossed in my iPad and iPhone that I would have zero interest in physical activity, I would have zero time to spend with my friends because they too would be on their iPads, my posture would be destroyed and I would have long-term neck and back problems.
If you were to hand me an iPad right now, I honestly wouldn’t know how to use it. I’ve tried using one unsuccessfully in the past and decided it wasn’t for me. But kids these days have mastered these devices as though it were an art form. You ask a young boy of 7 to set up an email account and forward a message on to 10 different contacts using a particular font size and I bet you he could do it with ease. That’s not right. When I was that age, I was still bragging that I could tie my own shoe laces and read a 200-page book.
A few days ago, my housemate was babysitting her five-year-old brother and I asked her what he spent the time doing. Along with enjoying a McDonald’s Happy Meal and taking a nap, he played games on his iPad. This little boy is in Junior Infants and his best friend is a teddy bear, yet he can use an iPad better than I can. What is life?
It baffles me that parents willingly buy their children these consoles and then give out to them for constantly playing them rather than doing their homework. My cousin got an Xbox 360 for Christmas this year. How is it right that this 8-year-old owns the same gaming device as my cousin of twenty years? If you were bringing your child to the cinema, you wouldn’t bring them to an 18s movie for fear of there being too much violence or sex, yet you buy them a machine that they will inevitably shoot people to death on before being rewarded by the woman in the lingerie. How logical.
You could argue against my points by saying that playing Super Mario Bros on the Nintendo isn’t good for a child either. A game where two men are fighting to save the defenceless princess from danger isn’t exactly giving power to women and may even be seen as sexist and encouraging a stereotype but at least the chances of running into Bowser in real life are fairly slim. Games such as Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto, on the other hand, are based on real life events and introduce children to violence and crime in a whole other light than Mario does when squashing a mushroom.
As well as the games having a negative impact, think of all the things a child hears and says when playing online. I don’t know much about Xbox online functions but what I’ve learned from relations is that things can get pretty heated online. Gamers get aggressive and use abusive language regardless of the age of their opponents. So if my 8-year-old cousin is playing Call of Duty online against someone three times his age, he could be exposed to all sorts of horrible comments and threats. Is that really the best environment for today’s children to be growing up in?
Maybe I’m exaggerating. Maybe I am a teenager that was deprived as a child and now resents every other child. Maybe I’m a miserable, nostalgic college student that is sick of seeing FIFA on the television every time I walk into the kitchen. Or maybe I have a point. Let’s reserve that judgement for now though, I don’t have time to debate. I’m outside Bowser’s castle and I only have one life left.
Photos c/o marieclaire.fr, kotaku.com