Monday, December 5, 2011

I May Have Lost My Kindle...To My Son!

This is my new Kindle Fire...which I may never see when Joey is home. You see the problem, right?

He has taken to sauntering past the family room to see if I am using it and if not, he says, "I was going to borrow your Kindle Fire..." and looking at me as if he should have 24/7 access to my new toy. In fact, the day I brought it home and was showing it to him, he said, "Mom, you need to learn to share your new toys." Really?

My kids have every game system in existence. The older two have cell phones. They all have newer computers than I do. I haven't bought anything new for myself as far as electronics go since I got my new "texting" phone a year ago, which is now completely out of date thanks to Apple and Steve Jobs and my now out of date original Kindle that Justin bought me for Christmas last year. I even had a cashier tell me that I could load my coupons onto my smartphone. When I told her I don't have a smartphone, she looked at me like I had told her I was homeless. How could I be so deprived?

Wow. When I was growing up, we had two televisions (did I mention that my kids all have televisions in their rooms? with cable?) - one was in the family room and one was in my parents' bedroom. There were no computers, no video games, no kindles, no iPods. I had a clock radio for music and eventually a little turntable to play my Journey albums on. We went to the library once a week during the summer and I checked out and read about 7 to 8 books a week. I still love to read, but now I'm doing it on this classy, shiny new object that also will check Facebook, play words with friends, and, apparently, let Joey play some game called "doodle jump." Which he loves. Which he played all weekend, every time he saw me put my new toy down.

I didn't do much reading this weekend.

What happened to riding your bike, going to the pool, playing outside, sitting in your room with a can of Charles Chips cheese pretzels (God, do you remember those? My mouth is watering!) and reading a stack of library books? I used to rearrange my room every week when school was out. Moving furniture around kind of became a hobby. I learned to cross stitch when I was still in high school. If I wanted to talk to someone, I picked up the phone in the kitchen (there was no phone jack in my bedroom until late in my teens) and pulled it as far into the laundry room as the cord would allow to get some privacy. We didn't have a dishwasher or a microwave until I think I had already graduated from high school.

Did I feel deprived? Of course not! I had everything I wanted then. Lots of books to read, friends to go do things with, a best friend who lived right behind me for sleepovers and playing cards all summer, a bike to go to the pool (by myself or with a friend - never with my mom). If I wanted to watch television, I watched it with my parents and/or my brother. I can remember coming home from dates on Saturday night and watching Saturday Night Live with my younger brother. We used to spend family time and have dinner together every night. On Christmas Eve, we played Monopoly and hung out, while I bugged my parents to open presents early.

There simply were no electronic devices available for me to want. Now every kid has a device of choice. And a computer. And don't go anywhere without your cell phone in case you need me or some deviant tries to pick you up in a van. But it doesn't really matter, because the kids are doing all of their socializing in their rooms, behind closed doors, online. It's a little scary. It's also how our social world is working now. I feel sad for this generation of kids who aren't growing up without internet access and texting because they are missing out on so much homemade fun.

But then again, having a cell phone would have been nice the night of my junior prom when my date's car battery died or when I was a little homesick and wanted to get away from the mean girls at a sleepover. Not that there were any mean girls...well, maybe before we moved to Virginia there were lots of mean girls, but at least they couldn't taunt me on Facebook.

Anyway...I suspect Joey will be freakishly excited when he opens up his very own Kindle Fire all pre-loaded with the games he told me he likes on Christmas morning. Justin was a little worried that he would be bored with it by then, but I don't see how that's possible. Want a new book to read? Let's search the Amazon store. Looking for a game? Let's see if there's a free app for that. How about watching a movie? Or a television show? Yep, you get streaming. It's all on there.

Is this a better world for kids to grow up in than ours was? I don't think it's necessarily better or worse. It's just different. And the results of this generation of gaming and texting and Facebook are yet to be tallied until our kids grow up and either excel at what they want to be or are living in our basement, immersed in World of Warcraft and emerging only after dark to steal food from your refrigerator.


  1. I think it's better in some ways and worse in others. For example, rather than using walkie talkies that barely work to talk to their close friends after bed, they can just text. BUT, I do think they sometimes miss out on the whole "lets go and have an adventure!" thing.

    My son is FIVE and a complete technology junkie! He saw a small laptop at Walmart and begged for it, tries to steal mine because the old one is very temperamental, knows how to take pictures with both my camera and cell phone, and even how to rotate the view on my phone. Hell, he realized you could slide the images to see the next one before I did. I'm seriously contemplating starting a 12-step program for him!

  2. Cheryl,

    I seriously worry about not only my kids, but also myself. When did we cross the line from the internet being a sometimes thing and it being an ALWAYS thing? There are always devices on in my household. Right now, my husband is in one room working and I am in the next room on facebook and my blog and my email and a design website, all at the same time.

    I have talked to my therapist about this at length and sometimes I wonder if I am addicted. I feel relief on days when I turn everything off and just watch a movie and cross stitch. That tells me that I am on way too much. And I am sad that my kids (except for Joey, surprisingly) do not enjoy going outdoors to play with real people. And I would like for them to start dating at some point - my oldest is 20 and seems to have no interest in actually being physically in the same room with girls he meets anywhere. He likes the idea of the online and texting relationships where they lives hundreds of miles away. What the hell?


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