Oh how I seethed when my kids were issued iPads. At school.
Millions of dollars were spent to procure this technology for every single child. The Shawnee Mission School District’s one-to-one technology edict rocked everyone’s world.
Teachers’ curricula were turned upside-down as they were charged with translating pencil-to-paper learning to smearing around on a glass screen with a finger. Many a document was saved, and lost. The iPads glitched, sending hard-worked school projects into a cyber-wasteland, never to be retrieved.
My personal hell was the iPads coming home every night to be charged. Often the kids were assigned homework, but I could never tell if they were doing it. Homework looked like games, and games could be passed off as homework.
I was proud to have stringently enforced a “no screens during the school week” rule, and the school itself had ruined my parental accomplishment.
My kicking and screaming did nothing to stop the technology wave my parents were on, and the iPads became a daily part of my kids’ lives. Then, we got them phones. They swipe and watch and poke at buttons quite a lot.
In a recent conversation with someone of my parents’ generation, I found myself on the pro-technology side. My kids have been immersed in technology through their tweens, and have faced all of the challenges associated with mean kids, easy access, over-sharing, couch-potatoing and more. Kids don’t go outside and explore like they used to. Every bit of that is true.
But riddle me this. Since when were kids who wanted to find trouble unable to find it? Are we really so naive as to think that “Brady Bunch” reruns were of higher intellectual value than watching kids play video games on YouTube?
That spending the summer in our rooms with our nose in a book was any more outdoorsy than making videos for our Instagram channel? Was sitting on the kitchen floor, chained to the wall by the rubber phone cord while we blathered about nothing with our buddies any better than texting emojis, or hooping and hollering through a headphone while playing a group video?
Technology is better. It’s also worse. And it’s different.
For every down-side of technology, there’s a flip-side. Easy access to drugs, porn and jerks also means easy access to knowledge, friends and tools.
My daughter was inspired by something she accessed through her phone to buy a ukulele. She researched to find a good value, we ordered it online, and within a couple of days, she’d taught herself multiple songs. She plays with another friend; they practice over FaceTime, and when they get together, they sound pretty darned good.
I never would have even thought to take up ukulele.
Were my kids better off with the iPads? In some ways, they probably were. Being part of the change exposed them to errors that were later corrected. Policies were enforced to keep them from installing games, messaging apps were restricted. The transition had some bumps.
But experiencing transition, being part of the learning curve, seeing it take new shape — that’s a real-life skill in itself. “Implementation specialist” is a good job title, and kids who have experienced electronic implementations will have perspective that I simply wouldn’t have.
Resisting change is natural for some, and struggling to find a new balance in an ever-changing world is the plight of everyone. But nothing about that is new. It’s just different.