The Touch-Screen Generation

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Link to article: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/04/the-touch-screen-generation/309250/2/

iPadThis article written by Hanna Rosin explains the effects iPads have on children (specifically toddlers). She states that iPads have become the next addictive thing after the television. They have become such a big part of life that toddlers feel left out and disconnected to the world if they cannot play with an iPad. In order to keep the obsession under control, parents have set time limits and would only allow them to play educational games. Even with these limitations parents are wondering if allowing their child to use an iPad is beneficial at all. They still fear that their child will grow up to become an anti-social freak who still lives with his parents when he’s thirty. The question that this article poses is, “What effect does the iPad have on children? Is it a positive or negative one?”

“iPhones had already been tempting young children, but the screens were a little small for pudgy toddler hands to navigate with ease and accuracy. Plus, parents tended to be more possessive of their phones, hiding them in pockets or purses. The iPad was big and bright, and a case could be made that it belonged to the family. Researchers who study children’s media immediately recognized it as a game changer” (Rosin). When iPhones came out, parents had complete control over them. They were able to hide them and keep them away from children. But because the iPad is so much bigger, it’s more accessible to the toddlers – and they know when it is being hidden from them. Thanks to the bigger screen, they are able to do more on the iPad than on the iPhone. I found this quote interesting because I never thought that the size of the screen could play such a big factor into its popularity with toddlers.

“On the one hand, parents want their children to swim expertly in the digital stream that they will have to navigate all their lives; on the other hand, they fear that too much digital media, too early, will sink them” (Rosin). Comparing iPads to a stream is an interesting metaphor. But when you think about it, it actually makes sense. A parent wants their child to learn how to swim mainly for two reasons: so that they wouldn’t be that one child who doesn’t know how to swim and so that they wouldn’t drown if they unexpectedly found themselves in the water. But when the parent has to let the child swim on his own for the first time, they are constantly worried that they will drown. You could say the same thing about the iPad. Parents teach their kids (or they figure it out for themselves) how to use the iPad because they don’t want their child to be the only one who doesn’t know how to use an iPad or be completely lost when they need to use an iPad. But they are afraid that if they let their child use the iPad too much, they will sink into this world of technology (in a bad way) and never resurface.

“I must admit, it was eerie to see a child still in diapers so competent and intent, as if he were forecasting his own adulthood. Technically I was the owner of the iPad, but in some ontological way it felt much more his than mine” (Rosin). I found this quote interesting because I can relate to it. My sister has an iPad and although it’s technically “hers”, my dad uses it more than she does. It certainly feels like it’s the family’s iPad, but we all know that it belongs to her. Perhaps the reason why it feels like the family’s iPad is because we only have one. If everyone in the family had an iPad, then it would feel like our individual iPads. But because we only have one, we are forced to share it in the family which gives us the feeling that it is ours and not hers.

“By their pinched reactions, these parents illuminated for me the neurosis of our age: as technology becomes ubiquitous in our lives, American parents are becoming more, not less, wary of what it might be doing to their children” (Rosin). If parents are feel that technology is helping them in their lives, why are they afraid of their children using technology? Won’t it help their children’s life as well? Because of technology our lives today are made easier. So in theory, if we learn how to use that technology at an early stage in our lives, then wouldn’t we be better off using technology when we grow up?

“Norman Rockwell never painted Boy Swiping Finger on Screen, and our own vision of a perfect childhood has never adjusted to accommodate that now-common tableau.” Why is the author assuming that old is better? For instance, before we had a vaccination for polio, people wouldn’t say that was good. People would prefer to have the progress that the polio vaccination brings them. Just because we enjoyed a simple childhood without electronics doesn’t necessarily mean that it is better than a childhood with electronics.

Citation:

Rosin, Hanna. “The Touch-Screen Generation.” The Atlantic.  The Atlantic Monthly Group, 20 March 2013. Web. 4 April 2013.

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