Since when does every 8-year old own an iPod?

| April 19, 2013 | 8 Comments

Back in the dinosaur era of the 1980s, my parents bought me a Commodore VIC-20. Remember that bad boy? It was the cheaper relative to the Commodore 64. I didn’t know the difference, nor did I care. I had a computer. Not that I really did anything with it besides hook it up to the television, lie down on the floor, and painstakingly type in the 2 or 3 long programs from the user’s manual in order to play some computer games. By games I mean some slow moving blob on the bottom of the screen that would shoot at some other space invading blobs at the top of the screen. Brilliant technology. Not quite the gaming experience I was envisioning but soon enough, my high-tech neighbours got their hands on Atari so I quickly gave up on the slow moving blob and made my way across the street for a little playtime.

Fast forward about 7-8 years and my parents bought me my first Windows-based computer loaded with a whopping 1 MB of memory, a pin-fed printer, and a dial-up modem. Blazing fast (not!) but I wrote many a computer program on that beast and printed off reams and reams of paper for my university assignments. And it set my parents back close to $3,000. Highway robbery is what it was! My mom found it in her storage area last year and asked me if perhaps I wanted it for my daughters to use. Bless you mom for not having a clue about technology!

It’s crazy when you think of how far things have come in a relatively short period of time. But have things gone too far? Now don’t go getting all agitated. I’m not suggesting that technology is bad, blah blah blah. I’m just wondering if young children are perhaps being bombarded with way too many gadgets at a young age unaware of the potential issues and responsibilities that go hand in hand with technology use. Let’s just stop and think of all the tech gadgets that middle-class Canadian children will, in many instances, own, use, or be aware of even before starting school.

  1. Vtech toys
  2. Leapster
  3. Leappad
  4. Nintendo DS (and all other variations)
  5. Nintendo Wii
  6. Xbox
  7. Sony Playstation
  8. Apple iPod Shuffle, Nano, and Touch
  9. Smartphones such as Apple iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, etc.
  10. Tablets such as Apple iPad, Samsung Galaxy, etc.
  11. Personal computers
  12. Digital cameras
  13. Digital camcorders.

This technology question has been weighing on my mind ever since my 8-year old daughter mentioned a few months ago that she was the only person in her grade 3 class that did not own an iPod Touch. First of all, I was genuinely surprised that this technology was so prevalent at that age. For those not familiar with an iPod Touch, it’s not just a device to play music with. It’s loaded with all the bells and whistles, apps, camera, internet, pretty much everything you can do with a Smartphone except make regular telephone calls (although you can use Skype or FaceTime to communicate with others). I understand using a parent’s phone or tablet while at home but it would appear that children own these devices and have them with them at school. Many of the children were mocking my daughter and telling her that her parents were weird for not buying her one. They even suggested she forget about what her parents think and instead ask Santa for an iPod. Foolish children, they think they are cool with their iPods and their FaceTime and yet they are still hanging onto the Santa fantasy. A little twisted don’t you think? Many parents have no qualms purchasing an iPod for their child and feel comfortable that at that young age they will be able to handle all the possible issues that come hand in hand with technology use and the explosion of online interaction amongst children and at the same time, they continue to encourage the childhood fantasy of a Santa Claus.

Lucky for me, my daughter is comfortable enough in her own skin that she told the other children, “Why do we need to FaceTime or text? If you want to talk, can’t you just call me?” This however is not my attempt to pat myself on the shoulder for doing a great job. It’s a constant struggle to keep things balanced, to teach them about technology so they are not left behind, but at the same time, to make them aware that these gadgets don’t make you smarter, they are merely tools that should be used to fulfill certain tasks. Just like children should learn the alphabet before learning to read, learn how to add numbers before using a calculator, learn how to spell before relying on Spellchecker, so should children learn the side effects of too much screen time, the potential pitfalls of technology use, social media, and the internet before we set them loose with all these gadgets. Whether you see it as good or bad, technology is proving to be quite the dominant babysitter for our children today. I guess it was back in the 1980s as well, except then it was some good quality TV time with the girls from the Facts of Life and the kissy kissy ways of Richard Dawson on Family Feud.

What do you think? Do you ever worry about technology overload for our little ones?



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Category: Blogs, Kids, Moms, Tech

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  1. Carl Bainbridge says:

    Loaded question. our 3 year old daughter is fully capable of using her brothers Ipad (or our computers or the Wii fit.) however she has limited access online simply having youtube and games.

    our 8 year old has an ipad as part of his assistive communication for his autism and has the same limitations on it.

    Part of the issue is controlled access, however my biggest concern has always been (and likely will always be) the camera, wish there was an option to avoid this

  2. Katina Michelis says:

    For me, the camera and all the negative effects it could have is indeed truly frightening, particularly with 2 daughters. YouTube makes me nervous as well, one wrong click and suddenly a young child is watching something completely inappropriate. We can do all we want to control access at home but if the technology is so prevalent in their age group, they will just access it via their friends who perhaps have free reign.

    Thanks for reading:)

  3. Denise Nielsen says:

    My 3 kids are 10, 12 and 13 and have a fair bit of tech… Laptops, itouch, iPods, as well as access to my ipad. My concern is not with the tech..I figure they need to learn to use it, and how better to learn responsible use than my watching their somewhat addicted mother. But I see daily (as a college prof) the negative effects of tech immersion on students’ ability to focus, think deeply, pay attention, etc…skills they also need. I had an epiphany about this one rainy Saturday when, after spending too long on Twitter, I felt incapable of relaxing with an actual novel (a favourite activity). I was on edge, and restless, looking for quick entertainment. Not scientific, I know, but since then I have reduced all tech use (including myself) to 30 minutes a day after working hours. That included video and the main house computer. We don’t have tv, or I’m sure I’d have restricted that too.

  4. Cassaie says:

    I had a bit of a manic mommy moment yesterday, and gathered up all of my daughters play phones (most of which are just actual old cell phones) and told her I was throwing them away. (I didn’t) it gets to be too much. Its frightening to me, that kids that young have their own devices.

  5. Maria Iemma says:

    I am not sure whether I like technology with small kids. There are a lot of apps that are good for the kids, spelling, reading, eye hand coordination etc. However I put my foot down on the cell phones — They inhibit communication. Kids are not learning to communicate vocally because they learn texting….I am trying to control the technology that they own.

  6. Texting, apps, all these pop-ups to register for this and that, cameras. When they are young, they just don’t know what’s safe and what’s not. That’s why it should be limited.

  7. kathy downey says:

    My grandson uses the computer when he visits I try to check on his now and then to see what hes doing.He loves Science and enjoys watching the videos on utube but I always worry about hin watching something completely inappropriate.

  8. Debbie White Beattie says:

    I may or may not be the only person to think that computers were the worst thing ever invented. Today people are addicted to their phones like crack addicts. They have to be on it every minute of the day texting, gaming and everything else.Nobody communicates face to face anymore.
    The side effects are hitting the kids really young like loosing their vision and back problems and who knows what else.
    I miss the old days like the 70’s and 80’s and maybe even before that !

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