The Curse!

bookApple computer founder, Steve Jobs, wouldn’t let his kids have access to an iPad, iPod or iPhone. The guy responsible for some of the most innovative technology ever limited his kid’s access to technology. Said Jobs, when asked about his kids using an iPad, They haven’t used it. We limit how much technology our kids use at home.”

In the Silicon Valley it seems that this is a trend. So much that executives that work within the famous tech hub actually send their kids to a school where they have no access to computers and technology. Said one executive, “…we have seen the dangers of technology firsthand. I’ve seen it in myself, I don’t want to see that happen to my kids.” The author of the article from which this quote was taken from pointedly suggests, “We were the last generation to play outside precisely because we didn’t have smartphones and laptops. We learned from movement, hands-on interaction, and we absorbed information through books and socialization with other humans as opposed to a Google search. “[1]

Technology can be a curse! My kids and technology drive me insane. They are forever on my phone, my iPad or the family computer. They are forever distracted. They steal my work equipment like my iPad and phone and download programs like Snapchat to them. It is not uncommon for my phone to buzz at 11pm and there is a Snapchat pic of some female teenager in an alluring pose being sent to my elder son.

Have you ever been looking everywhere for your iPad so you can check Outlook and plan your day for the next day, only to find it missing? You then discover one of your kids has taken it to the toilet and has been doing their business while Snapchatting for the last 30 minutes. This happens to me all the time. The last straw came for me when the iPad went missing and I discovered my eldest had taken it to the bathroom with him and was actually having a shower. In desperation I passworded all my equipment and warned my kids not to touch!

Oh God! What happened next …??? “But Dad I need a phoooonnnne.” or “But Daaaddddd I need my own computer!!! The eldest, having lost his phone for the umpteenth time, has stolen one of my old prepaid phones. He puts it on wireless and then spends all night and half the morning on the internet chatting with his friends…99% girls. It got to the point where to stop him I have had to take the phone connection away and hide it.

Now if kids don’t have a Smartphone it is like … “Oh my god but what about strangers????” “What if they are in danger????” … “What if they need me???” Last I looked the world is pretty heavily populated. Most of my friends from school are still alive despite the absence of technology in their generation. Did you know that for the average person to get harmed walking down the street they would have to wait 750 000 hours.

I am well aware that technology has been a godsend for the deaf. When I started work I had no email, no phone access, no text, no Skype and as a consequence very few career opportunities. The deaf of my generation had to work bloody hard to get where we are today. Yes, technology has helped and I am thankful for it.

But it is not all good. Arguably technology has meant that we have all become less sociable. Rather than meet face to face we seem to spend all our time sending texts and chatting through any number of program of like Facebook, Snapchat, Skype, Viber and Instagram. Conversation is often just habitual rather than needed. It is largely meaningless conversation 24/7 and right at our fingertips.

Arguably some aspects of technology have had an adverse effect on the Deaf community. Not too long ago the only way that Deaf community members could meet was face to face. Friday night club nights were a must. They were something everyone looked forward too. For a time in the late 90s and 2000s one could argue that Deaf community members got so wrapped up in technology that they forgot the joys of real human contact. The spirit of the Deaf community got lost in cyberspace.

In a round about way it reminds me of research done with baby monkeys. Two baby monkeys were part of a project. One was raised with its mother, another by a furry mannequin. They were both brought up with the same food and warmth. However, the baby monkey with the mannequin lacked interaction that the baby monkey with the real mother did not. Not surprisingly the baby monkey reared by the mannequin died.

To me that is bit like what happened with the Deaf community when technology exploded. People were able to get in touch with each other at will and they did. However, because they were communicating readily, members of the Deaf community were meeting face to face less. That human contact and warmth went missing and the Deaf community became increasingly fragmented.

While technology is still an important part of a Deaf persons armour, thankfully the Deaf community has recognised that nothing beats meeting in person. After a period where it seemed that the Deaf community was dying, in recent years the Deaf community has grown more vibrant.

The Deaf community has recognised that nothing beats real face to face communication. The community has recognised that its strengths are in its institutions like the Australian Deaf Games, Deaf clubs and its history. Deaf sporting events, once poorly attended, are thriving again. The curse of technology, in my view, very nearly contributed to the demise of these wonderful Deaf community institutions.

In my mind and in my car,

we can’t rewind we’ve gone to far.

Pictures came and broke your heart

Put down the blame on VCR!!!

These immortal lines are taken from the hit song Video Killed the Radio Star. The song touches on the impact of technology. In this instance the song hankers for the days when music was music and didn’t rely on video. Well I want the days back where human interaction was just that and was not superseded by our unquenchable thirst for communication through technology.

Arguably communications technology, for all its benefits, has had an adverse effect on the whole of society and contributed to increasing fragmentation. This is particularly so with our kids. As the author of the article quoted at the start of this piece asks – So, should we be more worried that we are robbing our children of the ability to Snapchat and play “Candy Crush” all day if we don’t hand them a smartphone, or should we be more worried that we would be robbing them of a healthier, less dependent development if we do hand them a smartphone?

I say put that phone away and regenerate the human touch, get outside and play!


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