When I was their age, we did not have tablets and smartphones. The iPod had only just been introduced. We lived for a year without a television in our house when I was six. Video games were out of the question and honestly, we would not have been interested, either. When we did get a television, however, we kids had a fixed time limit - an hour a day - for watching what my father occasionally referred to as the "idiot box," a name which the inventor of television himself gave to his invention. As for the computer? Only to be used for half an hour a day, save when we had projects and needed it for research, making slideshow presentations, etc.
Books were my companions all day long. I would go to the local public library every other week with my mother, take an hour to select all those books which had an attractive cover page (despite being reminded of the adage, "Don't judge books by their cover"), and spend at least fifteen minutes at the checkout line, waiting till the lady would finish scanning the bar codes of thirty books so that Mom and I could start placing them in two big plastic bags and finally lug them to the car and back home.
I miss those days.Looking around, I see a girl sitting on her scooter at seven in the morning on the corner of a street, taking a selfie and blissfully unaware of the possible risk she is undertaking while doing so. About a year ago, my mother recounted how she had almost bumped into a girl who stopped in the middle of the sidewalk to – you guessed it – take a selfie. One of my teachers previously mentioned how he has a younger brother who would enter the twelfth grade that year but all he was interested in was taking selfies.
Who is responsible for all this? As Paulo Coelho mentions in the pages of his book, "Like the Flowing River," "I'm worried about tomorrow's children, with their computer games, their parents with mobile phones, ..." Despite belonging to the same generation that he refers to, I cannot help but agree. I would largely attribute this present state of "technology-dependence" to parents and society as a whole. Even if parents do make efforts to keep their children on the right track, their surroundings are bound to affect them adversely.
In spite of that, I do believe that it all begins at home. I am not a parent; I do not know how the entire parenting process works. But, as a daughter, I have seen how my parents have handled me and brought me up to be the person that I am today. And honestly, the amount of efforts that they have put in to make sure that neither I nor anyone else ruins my life and makes it something I might regret, is immense. Yes, that may imply greater controls and restrictions. But restrictions on what? Facebook? Twitter? WhatsApp? Even Instagram and Snapchat, these days. You know what? I can live with that and I am more than happy to do so.
Of course, technology, when used in the right measure and for productive purposes, is a blessing. But, what happens when children are not taught the difference between right and wrong? What happens when they are encouraged to pick out their favorite video games from a store that sells pirated copies instead of being prodded to pick out their favorite books from the public library? What happens is this: your country gets named as having the most number of selfie-related deaths in 2015 which "accounted for about half of the selfie-related deaths globally"; you encounter numerous instances of distracted driving a day because people are busy playing Pokemon Go, and you read of innumerable cases where kids commit suicide after being victimized by cyberbullies.
Walter Isaacson, the man who wrote Steve Jobs' biography, "Every evening Steve made a point of having dinner [with his wife and kids] at the big long table in their kitchen, discussing books and history and a variety of things." Jobs also mentioned "limiting how much technology their kids use at home."
When a man like Steve Jobs could have been wise enough to say "No" to his children and take the risk of being rewarded with their wrath, why cannot other parents understand the innumerable times worse implications of saying "Yes"?