Since I had my first baby twenty five years ago, to my smallest who is one, things have obviously changed hugely. Technology has come on in leaps and bounds, my children actually just about know what a phone box is and, have no concept of life before Netflix, or the fact that back in the day Google didn’t exist. Even I wonder how I coped without that.
When my eldest were little we used to have to go to draughty church halls and play with one eyed naked dolls, prams with a wheel missing and sticklebricks (remember them) that still contained the spit from the child that sucked them the week before. Us parents (mainly mums tbh) sat round on rickety chairs nursing bad instant coffee (pre Starbucks) in mugs that were probably used by the WI during the second world war, nibbling on a stale tasting digestive. We couldn’t look at our phones as most of us didn’t have them. Texting hadn’t taken off yet and as for Facebook, Instagram or twitter forget it. Those were the days we had to use good old fashioned conversation. We talked to each other, played with our children and didn’t worry that we weren’t documenting every second of our lives from the moment we woke up to the minute we went to bed. No missed calls to stress about we had an answerphone………………
Don’t get me wrong, I do not miss having to use a phone box that was filled with wee, and I love a tweet as much as the next person, I’m not harking back to the good old days, I love my phone and my kids love theirs. Its also lots easier to punish a rather cocky child nowadays, too much cheek and wip away their mobile, its the worst thing that can happen to them. Honestly life without social media for a young person from twelve on wards is like the world without the sun, unimaginable. They tidy their bedroom pretty sharpish I can tell you with the threat of no mobile looming. For that alone you have to be grateful for the march of technology. Hearing my children ask Alexa what the weathers like, or what the time is, is normal to me now. Its also reassuring when they go out, you feel safer in the knowledge that they can ring you if there’s a problem, you can also get hold of them. This works in theory until the time their battery dies, you ring, it goes straight to voicemail and then your imagination goes bananas. So I guess every up side has its flip side. But on the whole I can’t complain.
There is nothing we can do about technology, I have embraced it and to be honest its saved me from many an awkward situation, if your in a room full of crowded people that you don’t know that well, look at your phone. You can pretend to be busy, talking, emailing, blogging it stops you from looking lonely. Church halls have never held the same fear for me, I love the toddler group now, if there’s nobody I fancy talking too I ring a friend, watts app pictures of the kids having fun to the husband. Even catch up on work,its suits me fine. Plus I am not the only person doing it, we all are. I suppose it does make us anti social but it keeps boring people at bay too.
One of the downsides to our never ending connection to cyberspace is “screen time” and the guilt that we feel about it. How long we let our children stare at the laptop watching anything from Peppa Pig to somebody playing with toys (they actually love that, who would have thought, plus these vloggers all have really weird hypnotic voices which adds a whole new level of weirdness) is akin to how much sugar we give them. The truth is the screens keep them happy, keep them quiet, keep them amused while you manage to get all your jobs done. I have to say I have got lots more relaxed over the years, if they watch too much Peppa so be it. The three year old has an amazing knowledge of dinosaurs thanks to one channel and, the one year old roars like a lion on demand thanks to seeing the old “lets play with playmobil” animals bloke. We as parents finally find something that works, keeps them happy and makes life easy, then we go and ruin it by overthinking everything and limiting the hours. Its such a fine balance, and I am more rubbish than most as I’m sure you can see by my attitude, but trust me you tube do a much better version of incy wincy spider than I do. We try so many things, screen after six, none before breakfast only two hours over the whole weekend. Its an internet nightmare all created to make us feel like we are getting something else wrong. To think I used to worry about a sucked sticklebrick. I have decided to stop worrying and as long as I talk to my children once a day and they are not going cross eyed, then internet here we come!
I actually met someone the other day who has never let her child watch T.V let alone use a lap top. When I asked if her daughter liked Peppa pig she looked at me as though I suggested she feed her crack cocaine. Its a personnel decision I totally understand that, and none of us will ever get it right bu,t this woman was pretty smug. Then her child had the biggest tantrum I have ever witnessed in my life culminating in her kicking her mothers turmeric, almond milk latte(in a biodegradable cup) right out of her hand spilling it all over the floor of the church hall (see some things never change).I actually felt sorry for her, I refrained from mentioning anything remotely pig related and passed her a sticklebrick instead, complete with drool. Had she been on a lap top……. who knows, the latte may have survived. Peppa pig anyone.