I am on the hunt for a new laptop. I love the one I have but after being used for hours and hours every single day of the last three years, she is tired and has begun to complain. Last week my display driver failed, leaving me with the blue screen of death. Talk about fear...all of my writing and all of our family photos are stored on my laptop. Yes, most of it is backed up elsewhere but not all of it. Working on that now...just in case that blue screen reappears.
What I have learned in my search? There are way too many to choose from. Brands, processors, displays, memory, hard drives, PC or Mac...I am overwhelmed by all the choices.
I remember the days when no one had computers. Only big businesses and probably the government invested the thousands of dollars in automation. Now, every home seems to be wired with desktops, laptops, tablets, smart phones and music players that we as a nation, can not seem to live without.
It may be cliche' but I remember a day when kids made their fun outside. We didn't carry around $500 electronics in our pockets or spend our days texting and face-timing. We rode our bikes to our friend's house and played a board game or went for a walk or toted a fishing pole to the nearest fishing hole. Yes, I grew up in the country but we weren't "backwoods", we just didn't know the joys- or tribulations- of technology.
Don't get me wrong, I love the convenience of my cell phone when I am separated from my children and husband. I know that I am only a call a way with no phone tag necessary to reach me. I do not, however, believe my eleven year old needs an iPhone or even a Trac phone for that matter. If he wants to call a friend or even- gasp- a young lady, he can do it from the house phone in the kitchen like I had to. There is no need for secret text chats at two in the morning.
I read an article once about how teenagers lose hours and hours of precious sleep that they need for their bodies to grow and develop by answering phone calls and text messages in the wee hours of the night. Why on earth would any sixteen year old NEED to communicate with anyone at two thirty in the morning?
Technology has opened the world for me. I publish books and blogs online, keep in touch with my friends, cousins and even my editor who are in distant places through email and social networking and even indulge in the occasional game of Candy Crush. I wouldn't give all that back for anything. On the flip side, I would give almost anything for the simplicity of life before online predators, identity theft and the easy accessibility to pornography became a regular part of daily life.
A while back I posted a blog titled Are You Tactically Sound? about ways we have found to help keep our family safe. Please add monitoring technology use to your list of daily activities of protecting your family. We have rules in our house about technology and internet use and I suggest that all parents take the time to check out what their kids are up to in the world of the internet. You might be horribly surprised. Young people are surprisingly adept at figuring out technology and since it is such an integral part of their childhood- computers and smartboards and ipads are used regularly in the classroom now- it's almost like they are born with the natural ability so many of us have had to learn and adapt to. With knowledge comes power and young people don't often have the skill set to use power appropriately. Help your child learn and understand that even though the entire world is open to them, they don't have to explore it all now.