As a Generation Xer, it’s my duty to bitch about millennials and Generation Z and their device addiction.
Am I any better? I tell them the kids dinner time by texting. (I’ll chalk this up to Gen X Energy Conservation. Why trudge up the stairs when I have the culmination of George Jetson’s, C-3PO’s and Scottie’s genius, sitting in the palm of my hand?)
Thing is, as annoying as texting and driving can be, or talking to the stone wall fortress a person perusing Facebook on their phone becomes, addiction seems so … severe.
Who’s to say whether hours-long swiping on Bumble or marathon sessions of Candy Crush (do people still play that?) or incessant Instagramming makes this world a worse place than, say, using straws or watching Dance Moms.
I ask my kids, “are you feeling all right?” if their faces light up blue by tiny screens plugged into iFunny or Pinterest or Slither I.O. They look up and sneer. Hell, if my Android wasn’t junk with a touchscreen, maybe my face would be blue, too.
Lots of good stuff seems to come out of devices, too, though.
The smattering of selfies and inspiration
My friend Tamara offered a spare iPhone long ago when my own flip phone returned to his Maker (or a landfill near you.)
My girls confiscated it, asserting nonverbally that their ability to actually operate the device gave them dominion over it, equaling 9/10th possession. They tested my storage space immediately with a peppering and more than a smattering of selfies.
It would be one thing if there were two or three selfies that look alike.
These girls, though, don’t often leave good enough alone. They hold the shutter down or something, whatever you call it on a smartphone, and rack up 33 only-slightly-different selfies on dad’s phone when he isn’t looking.
Joke’s on them when the pictures wind up on this blog.
My girls scour the web on their devices for inspiration, picking Mia Hamm quotes and images of projects to attempt, in the kitchen or in their sketch book or on their friend’s skin. (Elise designed a tattoo for someone. So, technically, she’s published, right?)
And Grace found inspiration to draw this, from pictures found on Pinterest.
Balance of tablets, like tacos
I include my laptop in this device debate. I know my default is to get home, grab a stack of graham crackers, rum up my Coke Zero and plug in the laptop. Even when it isn’t Fantasy Football season. There are work emails to check and blog comments to answer.
With anything cool, and especially as kids, there’s trial and error in uncovering the balance between use and addiction (such a harsh word, still, I maintain).
Anything, from tablets to tacos, should enhance the human experience. Anything, from tablets to tacos, could hurt it. It’s about being present. If I text at stoplights, I could miss a cardinal, a car that looks like KITT, or a girl smiling at me. (Okay, the bird and car.)
Moderation – in sour cream and in social media – is the key.
I don’t mind a 12-year-old lost in Instagram after a long school day. I see little harm in a 16-year old retreating to the bedroom after a grueling soccer match to chat with friends. I’m grateful for a 19-year-old who posts photos of her days in Asheville to social media.
I get to see the world through their eyes, through their enabled devices, and it’s good.
When they get down for dinner, the devices get a break. I’m not saying we sit around the table and recite favorite Psalms over gluten-free eating. Even if it’s on the couch watching Shark Tank, faces aren’t blue, even though the language sometimes is.
One of them might even mention it in their story later.