While enjoying an overnight stay with my grandchildren, I couldn’t help but notice that technology also appeared for fun in Gigi and Dad. As much as I wanted to complain about it, I’m just as guilty, with a cell phone that can also hang around my neck.
Five of the grandchildren – nine to four – were standing on the couch with either an iPad or a mobile phone glued to their hands. Even though downtime was very necessary – for me, anyway – I still can’t help but feel how connected they are to their electronics. I really love my cell phone and I’m not ashamed to admit that if I think I’ve lost it, I panic. I want to be available to kids 24/7.
Maybe it’s okay, and maybe not, but a cell phone has come into my life and now I think I can’t do without it. From so many posts I see from friends, old and new, on Facebook, I’m sure I’m not alone in this obsession.
As much as it seems wrong that they have any information at hand, I’m sure there are as many reasons why it might be good. We spent quality time looking for entertainment on the street, which always turned out to be dirty faces and hands. We’ve learned to use our imagination, which I worry grandchildren may not need if everything is invented for them.
I’m excited about their zombie-like look that may accompany this obsession, though I can pick them up and warn if I offer a good dose of sugar from cookies or candy. Parents can apparently keep track of how much time they spend in their electronic games, and have tried to tell me it’s time to cut it off, but they also know that everything happens on cousins overnight.
The Grands learned just by watching Kids YouTube, the rules of ping pong – I couldn’t remember, and they didn’t like “my” rules – what the best hand in poker – yes, I taught them how to play a five-card draw that has become a family tradition, and watched educational videos ranging from learning to draw animals to assembling paper airplanes. Mr. Rogers and Captain Kangaroo have never offered anything so cool.
Although they will turn to their electronics if they think they are “bored” when I offer a game of hide and seek, it’s all in their hands. Even nine-year-old boys will be involved in everything that involves running, hiding and screaming. Counting to 20, I stared at my dad sitting on the couch trying to watch a golf tournament, and silently chuckled to himself. I wanted to say, “If you can’t beat them, join them,” but at that point I was completely embroiled in chaos and loved every minute of it.
Perhaps now I can convince Dad that the stacks of encyclopedias in the basement are useless to us; otherwise i’m going to offer them next time he asks me to search for something online.
Sandy Turner is a mother, grandmother, former caretaker and retired journalist living in Missouri.