Make memories not megapixels

Should primary-school children be allowed smartphones?

By James Hammond

Firstly, a confession – I’m no ‘Into the Wild’, bathing in a reservoir hero. I’m guilty. I know well the demeaning effect time wasting has upon my mental health. As adults, each of us experiences the self-loathing which comes from a wasted night looking at student memes, whilst coincidentally doing nothing to prevent the problems we are laughing at. Technology has us, the ‘educated’, the ones who should know better, in its vice grip. And if we are so susceptible, then what hope is there for children?

One study showed that children are spending less time outside than prison inmates. The same study says they are reading less than ever. My little sister would rather spend the evening on her iPad than reading a book or leaving the house, and if she does leave the house, you best believe the iPad goes with her. A large fraction of her time during a family event is spent on games or on social media. Would we have had the Brontës if their lives were spent in such a manner? Charlotte ignoring Anne whilst she stalks some Yorkshire lad on Facebook; Emily only occasionally gracing the moors to take a quick picture for Instagram.

If this continues, or—as is most likely—worsens, there’ll be no new Brontës. The argument is frequently made that smartphones and tablets offer many educational purposes. They do. But those academic benefits can be found elsewhere. It is nonsense to pretend that education is what children mostly use this new-found technology for. Instead, smartphones and tablets deprive a growing mind from the education of life. Their experiences are being built upon the strange gratification of likes and apps which serve no worthy purpose beyond the glass.

Are we the last to have childhood memories not composed of pixels? Sure, we had vices. Our MSN. Our Xbox. But they were stationary. They didn’t follow us around, niggling at our very being. Whilst still under parental guidance, before the terrors of adolescence, it is a parent’s duty to remove the cotton wool – and the iPad – and encourage their children to develop the intuition, tact and toughness they will need to make it through existence. The lessons of life are best absorbed without the weight of a screen in your hand.

Now, onto the most important issue. As a young lad, my abilities to make my future self cringe knew no bounds. I know I’m not alone there. And although the memories still haunt me, they are just that, memories. I will be forever thankful that those excruciating moments aren’t eternally embedded online. It is for this reason that I implore the new generation of parents to stop letting naïve children make fools of themselves on the internet. Those memories are going nowhere. They haunt the entire world, and your child’s life, forever.

The days of nostalgia induced by nature are dying. Dying, right before our 12 megapixel lenses. Am I being a little dramatic? Probably. Nonetheless, a depressing amount of a child’s time is spent glaring into that glass abyss. Technology is unavoidable, but its consuming powers can be mitigated. Before the robots take over, before Tesco employees are a thing of the past, let the children experience what it means to be human.


Featured image: The Guardian

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