I for instant – Our Next Generation

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It struck me for the first time the day I was searching frantically for my missing handbag (read ‘stolen’) and my then 7-year old son’s reaction was to immediately sit down with my laptop and much to my annoyance, he actually googled, ‘pictures of people who steal purses’. Later that night, I took a picture of the screen that was still open and it actually made me smile (in a still-annoyed sort of way, yes). He literally thought that the internet was the answer to my dilemma. But then again, you cannot really blame him. He has seen me search for questions in cyberspace and sometimes we use the internet together to search for interesting concepts we come along. Since I run the risk of my brother reading this blog post as well, I would like to add that we have only recently started using Bing, the decision engine which is far more useful! But the fact remains that at age 7 my son thought that the internet or technology was invincible. Ouch.

There is a very interesting article that I recently read on the ‘children of cyberspace’ about today’s children and how the emerging technology is shaping their views of the world and how different their perceptions would be from not only their parents but also perhaps their own elder siblings, given the lightening speed with which technology is catching pace. Is it any wonder then that my 2-year old son is far more at easy with my cellphone (a blackberry) than I was six months back when I had just bought it. The same article also brings forward a very interesting opinion, that today’s iGeneration as it calls them, are so reliant on ‘instant messaging’ that they will grow up to expect an ‘instant response’ from anyone they communicate with and will not have the patience for anything else. The ability to multitask at a far greater extent than their elders is a definite trademark for this new generation but the question of ‘concentration’ and ability to ‘focus’ on the task at hand is a big question mark. The current generation that is growing up in a world of ‘real’ and ‘online friends’ and has somewhat ‘relaxed notions of privacy’ as compared to their predecessors does raise eye brows especially those amongst us who are still not social media savvy. While it is natural for one generation to denounce the others and only think of their time as ‘the best ever’ (we all have heard similar stories from our grandparents and parents of ‘their times’) but this issue definitely needs some food for thought.

This is a generation which is being brought up by learning to say the Alphabet from the Sesame Street DVDs to interactive digital books. If you happen to sit in a group of elementary school kids, especially boys, you will only hear them talk of their gadgets: game boys, play station, Nintendo, the PSP and a gazillion collection of their associated cartridges and DVDs! Parents often complain the lack of ‘physical exercise’ for their children and that ‘they are always stuck to the TV screens’. Our children have so many choices on the television, with each programme competing to be more ‘violent’ in content than the other. This generation has so many choices around them that they also get ‘bored’ easily! I was reading this article by a friend on her facebook profile of how those of us born in the 70s and 80s enjoyed a ‘non-digital’ childhood with lots of playing outside in the streets with no fears that are rampant in today’s security environment. While all of us enjoyed the article as a trip down the memory lane, it did make me think once of what our children would remember as their childhood activities … I say this because I see the children’s interest fast changing pace with the changing pace of a new face of a fancier gadget every six months. Would they remember their childhood with the same passion that we do ours? Would they cherish these memories with the same longing we do? And this is a question that I leave to you, my dear reader.

14 responses »

  1. Your child (like mine) are being bought up in a ‘connected’ world. The common denominator being the Internet. I am sure when they grow up – they too would be writing a post like this, albeit with a different connotation as on how the world has progressed to .

    Today’s children from an intelligence point of view are more intelligent than those of yesteryears. However, I would recommend that you see this life-altering (view) on education, an excellent 18 minute video presentation given by a great person called Sir Ken Robinson on TED:

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  3. Even in today’s digital world, I am very proud to say that my kids barely watch tv during the week. Internet is allowed for only 30 minutes and the rest of the time is spent eating mom’s brains out! We do try going bike riding and also sometimes kick the soccer ball in the garden. My kids are 9, nearly 7 and 1 I know this will change soon…I cherish it while it lasts 😛

      • It took time…just sort of made it a lifestyle change. I tried not to buy them the gadgets in the first place, however they would creep into the house in the form of gifts and sorts. I think they know we dislike it…and would prefer them to just sit and do nothing rather than play a video game or watch endless tv. Living in a compound helps, I force them out in the evenings for bike riding. BOOKS…have lots of books in the house, they always help!

  4. Shaista – I enjoyed reading your another master-piece and of a level like reading – A Tale of Two Cities. So here is a Tale of two Generations. Yes, every generation is technologically better than the past and they should be to survive in their age. But are the also having better values and ethics? That is a crucial question. The individual kids – likes of your son – will have it – thanks to Ideal Mothers like you. But on a whole each new generation heralds – End of Innocence and Advent of Cruelty – in a “evolutionary” way. The decline of heritage is absolute but rise of Tech and abundance of Tech Toys is obvious. But as long the women of your substance are there, the hope is alive – YOUR SON WILL BE SAVIOR from curses of Godless Technology and he will one day find OUR THIEVES on Google or get an Idea from BING – how to save Mother’s assets. My prays for him to be a savior of our Motherland and her wealth. May ALLAH bless you both and all good Pakistanis and let all be Good Pakistanis. Excellent (no! Outstanding Blog – preserve yourself and keep our hopes alive)

  5. Thanx for mentioning my facebook note “For those born in 70s and 80s:)” … its a very important issue… We are trying our best to go at the fast moving pace of this new millenium born kids, but they are already much ahead of us. One thing which is quite worrying as you mentioned is I for Instant.. they dont want to wait for any response.. if there is little delay they will move forward. I think the beauty of life is in the patience, waiting and guessing for good things to happen, instead of doing multitasking and not getting pleasure/satisfaction with anything. We can still help them by being more caring/ loving to them so they will not be indifferent to human emotions.

  6. You are true that technology is spoiling our kids. My younger cousins and kids of cousins are often seen at a dinner or gathering with their nose stuck in a gameboy.

    My son rejected a toy train the other day telling me “battery finished hai” eventhough it was one of those “old style” toys that were meant to be played with manually.

    Growing up I was on the cutting edge of things with Atari, then Commodore64, then Nintendos & Segas but it was always limited by parents to a couple of hours with emphasis on playing in the garden outside.

    Soon I expect IB will prolly convey his thoughts to his parents via his blog.

    -Aly

    http://discomaulvi.wordpress.com/
    http://www.twitter.com/DiscoMaulvi

  7. I think the biggest problem is our kids do not have the option of running outside and playing. I wish they did but they do not. I discourage TV time by reading books or arranging play dates with friends, but honestly, how often can one do that!

    Another problem of the internet is using materials, plagirzing really, which has become an instant and convenient tool for the kids. We used to write, actually write at their age. they just “copy and paste”

  8. Technology is never really the culprit, just an easy scapegoat. Parents are responsible for teaching kids social manners, helping them attain discipline in their activities and chalk out proportionate amounts of time between indoor and outdoor play. Technology can help or hinder us to do all of this; it all depends on how we handle it. For instance my daughter at age 2.5 is totally comfortable with the mouse, can drag and drop, and begs me to let her sit at my computer, where she types out various words like “mama”, “no” and plays fisher price games. I’ve never made her do any of this, it comes naturally to her, as it will to all the kids of the internet generation. Is that a good or bad thing? You, as parent, must decide.

    “Would they remember their childhood with the same passion that we do ours? Would they cherish these memories with the same longing we do?”

    Every generation will have their own unique set of childhood memories defined by the era they grew up in. Who’s to say their memories won’t be better than ours? 🙂

  9. As always an amazing and thought provoking write up…but I guess our parents gave us moe time when we wwre young then we give to our children nowadays…maybe thats also a big factor in the way this generation thinks and acts… : )

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