I was talking to a man in the pharmacy this week about this exact subject. Technology, and the fact that it makes the world so fast, and that our kids know nothing else.
I have had children in an age where everything we need is literally at our fingertips.
Music, photographs, groceries, any baby item we may need to purchase, the gym timetable (!), videos, the latest episode of Paw Patrol, or Peppa Pig on loop, all at the touch of a button or two on our phones.
Despite growing up without such luxuries, it is something that as an adult, I have become accustomed to. I don’t really have to make a lot go effort to access any information I need, and I get frustrated if I can’t get it it quicker than the few seconds of load time my current iPhone operates at.
It goes without saying then, that my children will know no different. They have only ever known me with a phone in my hand, tapping away sending messages, checking email, watching YouTube videos for some downtime, or checking Facebook. They don’t know the old version of me, where I actually went to a record shop to purchase music.
Having children in this world has meant that there have been quite a few helpful shortcuts in parenting. From even before you find out you are pregnant, there is no doubt that many women are on Google, checking when they should be ovulating via a number of online calculators, or checking out the symptoms of early pregnancy, even though I can’t imagine that there are many of us that don’t already know what these are! Then the moment arrives, you’re pregnant! Cue the downloading of one of the many available pregnancy apps, which detail what stage you are at, how you should be feeling, what you should be eating and even what your little fig looks like at 13 weeks.
Then pass months of checking out every twinge you have on every pregnancy page you can find, downloading books, the Mothercare app, and shopping for your forthcoming arrival.
Then the baby arrives, and those little pieces of technology really come into their own. There were nights where Lylah was screaming and screaming, and we didn’t know what to do. Do you know what I can remember from those nights? Chris hunched over a faint blue light on the edge of the bed, frantically Googling what to do with a 2 week old screaming baby who likely has colic.
The Mothercare app was a Godsend. Lylah fell asleep instantly to the hairdryer noise, and that soon became our go-to solution. Never mind singing lullabies, rocking her to sleep or anything else; we tapped the screen, let the hair dryer noise come out and watch her drift off to sleep. I discovered YouTube on our Smart TV and played white noise that way as well, meaning naps in the living room in her chair whilst I was able to do stuff in the rest of the house. It has come in handy the second time round as well, but with baby number 2 I found an app with an advanced feature. It switches on as soon as baby cries, and fades out again! Pure genius!
As Lylah has grown, her access to technology has only increased. TV watching (no matter how much I said before children that it would be rare occurrence) allows me to get some housework done. The smart TV means that I can access anything she wants on YouTube at any time. Sky Plus means box sets and instant downloading. If Lylah asks for something and I say sorry, it isn’t on at the moment, she says “but Mummy, just load it up!”
This terminology presented itself in normal conversation in the car yesterday. We were on our way to the shops, and she asked me whether we could play a game (where we pretend we are Anna & Elsa) when we were in the car and going. I said yes, but asked why we couldn’t play it while we were getting into the car? She said it’s because the game hadn’t finished “loading up”!
The other day, we were playing a game of musical chairs. She send she wanted to do the music, which was basically her singing a song. She said “the music is coming on” and pretended she was holding a mobile phone, tapped the screen and said “bleep”. My three year old thinks that music comes from a mobile phone! Which, in her world, it does.
As parents, we can control and monitor our children’s access to technology. Reading the above back to myself, it sounds like Lylah is constantly on some form of gadget, which actually isn’t the case. But is she familiar and aware of it? Yes, of course, because we live in 2016.
Yes, it would be good to slow down. Yes, it would be great to have more patience and not rely on technology for everything; that’s down to the individual to control. We need some balance, yes, between the world of everything being ‘right now’ on the other side of our phone screens, to playing outside in nature and forgetting what time it is.
Could I have brought children up without the helping hand of technology? Well, yes, people did, and I would have had to.
Am I grateful for the white noise app? YES! Yes I am.