Our children today can't fathom the world we actually grew up in. The moment I begin describing a world without iPads, iPods or XBox 360s their little eyes glaze over and their ears shut down as their defense mechanisms take over to protect their delicate spirits. When it truly sinks in that I grew up in the Dark Ages they look at me with such saddened eyes. They can't imagine how I managed to cope all those years without modern technology.
Modern technology fails to prepare our children for disappointment. Everything is so readily available at any given moment. They can no longer fathom having to wait for something, save up for something or God forbid understand if something is unavailable.
Now, I know it is my responsibility to teach my children delayed gratification and saving up for something big versus wasting all their money on small trivial objects. And it must be stated clearly that every piece of technology described in the rest of this piece and owned by my children has been either purchased with their own savings or received as a birthday gift from an overzealous relative (no names to spare the guilty).
My five year old daughter was funny the other day. She has a game for making cupcakes and a game for making breakfast on her iPod. She asked for the game for Lunch. I looked. There was no such game. She looked at me as if I had grown a second head. "Why not? There is breakfast and cupcakes? Where's lunch?" "In the kitchen, I think I just heard your mother, go eat" (It was 9am in the morning. It took her a good five minutes to figure out it wasn't lunch time yet).
In my six year old son's world disappointment comes in the form of his last generation iPod. It seems his little technological marvel can't play some of the new and current games. He doesn't care that he can borrow his older brother's or play on an iPad. He wants an upgrade now. He hates when I tell him to get a job and start saving the $200 for a nextgen iPod. "I'm too young to get a job! You never pay me allowance on time! How am I to save for a new iPod when I can never earn enough allowance."
"Go clean up the toys the baby just spilled all over the living room. I will pay you an extra dollar."
"Did mom just call me for lunch?"
He thinks I don't know it is 10am and no where near lunch time.
Seriously though, my kids are incredible about doing their chores and I almost never have to pick up a toy unless I am helping them clean up a baby devastated living area that looks likes Kansas after Dorothy's taken a trip. The immediacy of media and entertainment however is setting them up to always desire and need something newer, shinier and faster at the youngest age possible. Thank God for free games and vast amounts of storage space on their devices. As digital natives they can't fathom the true work involved to create, provide and maintain their technological desires. My children all know the value of work and chores. But I am not looking forward to the constant battles over technological disappointment or the day when they realize the true cost of wanting something that symbolizes nothing in the end.