I love my smart phone. Oh yes I do. I wonder how I would even parent without that tiny device of instant gratification in my pocket.
Technology has changed parenting and how our kids will grow up. For better or for worse, our kids know they can pretty much have whatever they want, whenever they want, thanks to technology. I am sure each generation thinks this but I grew up before the internet was around. I got the internet just as I was getting out of high school, so I know how much things have changed.
I watched it morph from a time when my mom was calling around to stores to try and scoop a Cabbage Patch doll after weeks of anticipation and patient waiting. Now we can buy almost anything our heart desires THIS INSTANT and overnight it with Prime shipping.
When I left high school pagers were a big breakthrough (not just used by doctors and drug dealers anymore). And now we all walk around with a powerful computer in our pocket that can look up anything we want to know right this second.
As I think about this change in our lifestyle, I am also a little saddened about some of the things my kids will never experience thanks to the abundance of gratifying technology. Experiences I had growing up but now are mostly gone.
1. For starters, how about movies? My kids now have Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu and On Demand at their fingertips. My 3 year old knows that when she wants to see something she can see it NOW!
Not that long ago it wasn't so easy to just watch any old movie we wanted. Back in the 80's and even 90's we went to the local video store and browsed all the shiny boxes, analyzing the pictures to make our movie picking decision. So, you waited until your parents would take you to the video store, and faced your disappointment when that movie you were dying to see was not available.
You would then have the store clerk check the boxes being returned to see if it's there. Maybe even going so far as waiting to see if any new ones came in while there. And if you wanted to see a movie in the theater you needed to look the time up in an actual paper newspaper. No checking online or buying those tickets online.
2. What about TV? Same deal, now we pretty much summon whatever show we want to see instantly, and even watch a whole series in one sitting. Not that I ever do that with my children.
When growing up we had to wait until the designated day and time to watch our favorite TV show. Or, if you were already in the advanced time of video recording, make sure you had it all set up correctly and ready to record or that was it. You missed it, then you MISSED it. Move on.. or wait for later in the summer to see the repeat.
3. How about going to see a concert or favorite band? We couldn't just pop on the computer and buy those tickets. Nope, we had to stand in line for concert tickets. Lining up at the mall or Ticketmaster and camping out to make sure we could get a seat.
The closest experience our children might have now is standing in line for the latest iPhone release or camping out for Black Friday shopping. And, you know we don't really have to stand in line to get a phone or TV. We can order it online too.
4. What about browsing the record store? Another lost activity. I know there are still some record stores out there, but you have to search for them like an almost extinct exotic animal.
Browsing through records at one of the many stores in the mall was just as fun as perusing the video boxes at the video store. I loved looking at all the covers and imaging what the band and music sounded like. Now.. well we know what's up now. Even the iPod is a relic, our phone is our music player, or we just tune into one of the many music streaming apps available.
5. Going along with looking through the records at the music store, what about going to the mall to see your favorite teen group play? Does anyone do that anymore? No? Oh well.
6. And last but not least. The exciting and fun teenage activity of going to see The Rocky Horror Picture Show at midnight (okay I found out it does still play at a few random theaters, but it won't be at the local one right down the street like it was when I was growing up). I don't see my kids doing anything similar.
Well that is just a sampling of some of the activities my kids will not experience in their lives. Of course there are many more, but these are some of my best memories of growing up in the 80's.
Don't get me wrong, I love technology. I wouldn't have my career without it. But, sometimes I feel sadness that my kids will grow up always knowing instant gratification for almost every form of entertainment in their lives and never know the joy of browsing Blockbuster on a Friday night.