The Rise of the Digiots

I’m not in for all this millennial / digital natives panacea stuff. I get a laugh out of the parents who watch their prodigy swiping left and right with ease and making some comment how “natural” they are with the implicit pride about “my kid’s really gonna be smart, just look at her drive that iPhone…”

You are making your kid into a consumer monkey, man.

Credit: Flickr, Tia Henricksen

Hi, my name is Dave, and I know, because I live with an 8-year-old Digiot.

Managing how my kid interacts with the digital world is THE biggest challenge we have in the house every day. Really.

We are not particularly tech’d-up, but still my boy has accumulated a personal DVD with about 40 videos, a Storio 2, a MobiGo, a personal game player (Super Mario type stuff) and we as a family have a big TV (600 channels, of which about 50 Kid HD ones…), the TV also has internet with Youtube connected (sinking ships / tornadoes / crashing cars / Pink Panther back-episodes unlimited…), and we have an iPad and aSamsung tablet (Skype etc), and one Smartphone with Whatsapp & Co driving our family social agenda. We also had for a time those robots you can learn programming with, but I ditched them fast.

All of this tech is in the default “OFF” position and kept out of reach with passwords, and screen time is actively managed.

Yet even with some strict rules in place, here’s how that plays out in the living room of a modern family:

  1. We go from one family argument to the next about when his next screen time will be and which device. From TV to video game to Smartphone rotating endlessly.
  2. When other kids come over, they all vie to get onto a digital device together as soon as possible, even though we have a room full of physical toys and we give them other projects to do.

Important Note: We never, ever abandon our kid to this digital wasteland as a substitute for parenting! He is extremely active with 3*3 hours per week intensive acrobatic training, piano lessons, boy scouts and a busy friends agenda. When he’s home we are as his parents with him constantly, playing outdoor games, on the trampoline, drawing and writing, out for bike rides, big adventure days, engaging with other kids, playing board games together, sitting on the floor playing legos and playmobil, building stuff, fussball table, etc etc. And yet…

On Managing the Digiots

  1. Despite the above and doing hard limits with kitchen timers on the various devices, anytime we are home there is a constant loud debate raging around when is the next screen time, also about what “other” great screens other kids have (I Hate You, Wii and X-Box).
  2. When we need to discourage a behaviour (formerly know as punishment), its the screens that get threatened first.
  3. Before a screen is given a “GO” we put a manual task ahead of it. All homework needs to have been finished, piano practiced, table cleared, room cleaned up.
  4. New for 2016! I am trying to make sure if he’s going to get some screen time, its to create some new content, not just consume other people’s content. Music mixing, video creation, e-posts etc. Suggestions on apps here are welcomed.

Anyone else got some good practices on living with the Digiots? We could all use an analog group hug, I think.

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