Growing up mobile
Being a parent of a young boy (soon to be boys) in the mobile era has and will continue to present me with a variety of challenges and opportunities that my parents never faced. For example, my wife and I use our Android smartphones to take videos of our son (and occasionally make phone calls). As we capture our son digitally, he loves to see his photo and watch himself on video immediately (but I truly have no idea what he thinks he’s seeing, since he’s only an infant). I want him to see the video, but I am concerned about the smartphone’s radio frequency affecting his developing brain. All my parents had to worry about was wrist pain from shaking the Polaroid too fast!
Our iPad has a toddler friendly app that challenges our son with shapes and colors and songs, but I have read and been advised by our physician that, in young children, virtual learning can be detrimental if it precedes tactile learning.
As my boys get older, I’m sure they will make at least one friend and, at some point, that friend will want to call them. Our household (like 40% of American households) does not have a landline … so, who will my sons’ friends call? At what point will they devise a plan to ask their friends to constantly call my smartphone number so I will buy them a phone to avoid all the calls? What age is appropriate for a cell phone? For a smartphone? Will both boys get them at the same time or same age? What if one is ready at 10 and the other isn’t ready until 13? How do I assess the values of cell/smartphones (convenience, safety) with the dark side of cell/smartphones (technology addiction, teenage girls)?
Another issue I foresee is curiosity. Despite my degree in Physics, I at some point will be unable to explain quantum harmonic oscillators and will direct him to Google. But what happens when the boys start asking really tough questions? When I was about seven, I began to ask my parents about the source of babies. Judging I was too young to understand, they delayed the inevitable talk. I took matters into my own hands, however, and found a book on reproduction at the library (under the guise of seeking books on dinosaurs). While I was able to read the information, I didn’t truly comprehend it but I knew my parents weren’t ready to discuss it with me. I fear the day my soon looks to Google for the same answers and ends up on sites that would get me fired from my job if I was to visit them on the work computer!
What advice do you have about raising children in the mobile — soon to be augmented reality — era?