I am a fan of technology. I’m just not awfully good at it. But I’m trying to learn.
I first decided that I needed to improve my almost non-existent knowledge when my primary school aged children started running rings round me on the PC. I was frightened of the big bad internet and how it was going to harm my children. I had visions of them watching hard core porn or being cyber bullied. These were the things that we were constantly warned about and so this was how I thought.
I now have four children who are all more savvy with a keyboard than me (but who obviously as yet lack my wit and experience). I have never had to close down unsavoury sites. They sometimes find things that contain language that I’d rather not hear but it’s nothing worse than they pick up in the playground. They just look for things that interest them (which on the whole tend to be age appropriate) and then use the information in ever more creative ways. I appreciate that that might not be everyone’s experience but it is mine.
And the more I learn, the more I come to realise that this fear which is, in the main, a fear of the unknown, is really holding us back. As parents, we have a tendency to fight against the tide of technology, refusing to let it change what we know. Our children carry round in their pockets more technology than we needed to take man to the moon and yet we ban them from using it. An we connect technology with all the bad things in the world. I was the same. I wanted my children to know how to use a library card reference system, a phone directory, a train timetable. And of course I still think that they need to have a passing understanding of these things but they are no longer relevant to the world that they are growing up in. This stuff is now done with a click.
When I was a kid my Dad could fix a car. In his youth, engines were simple and unreliable so knowing how one worked was crucial. I’m sure he could not have imagined a world in which people wouldn’t be able to look under a bonnet, locate the problem and sort it. But how many of us can? Even mechanics hook the car up to the electronic diagnostics these days.
My point is that things move on and we have to move with it. We cannot stand, like King Cnut, with our feet in the sea. Yes it’s new and it’s not how we did things but that doesn’t make it wrong. The catalyst for this post was something I watched on the apple page today. I urge you to watch it too. Just imagine if we had had textbooks where the pictures moved, where we could look up words we didn’t understand just by touching them, where we could add our own notes to the pages without being told off, which were updated continuously rather than out of date as soon as they hit the shelves and then churned out year after year regardless, that weighed the same no matter how thick they were or how many we carried. I could go on and on but you take my point.
The more I learn, the more excited I become. I do have the odd wobble and look back longingly at a time when new information was fed to me in a way that suited the Victorians. But that world is gone and I am going to try to embrace the new one and work with it. To be honest, the more I think about it the more I believe that I will not be doing the best for my children if I don’t. And I’m excited!