Mitch Joel for The Montreal Gazette: Children not outside playing? Don't blame technology

November 8th, 2011

Montreal Gazette
November 8, 2011
By, Mitch Joel


Technology brings with it some frightening things, with the scariest being uncertainty.

People are creatures of habit and the introduction of anything new typically leads to some form of objection, ranging from raised eyebrows to the waving of pitchforks. Many of the arguments being made today as to how the Internet is ruining our society were first put forth with the introduction of public speaking, the printed word, telecommunications and so on.

The common argument against smartphones and mobile devices is that they handcuff an employee to their work 24 hours a day and seven days a week. While your boss may have an expectation that because you have a BlackBerry, you should respond to emails at 6 a.m. on a Saturday (emergency or not), this is less about your boss’s disposition and more about a common lack of education as to how to best use technology. People are often shocked to realize my iPhone rarely makes a peep. I get one silent vibrate for text messages and two vibrations for a phone call. My iPhone does not beep, vibrate or blink when emails, tweets, or Facebook updates arrive. Why? It’s my job to best manage my technology (and not the other way around). The people I work with know email is the best form of communication with me and that if it’s an emergency, to please call. I check my emails and other digital notifications when I want and not in the moment that they happen. The phone occasionally rings, but only for emergencies.

There’s a macro lesson here: If you think your child is spending too much time on their iPad and not enough time outside getting exercise, don’t blame the iPad. Before the iPad, they were playing video games, and before video games they were watching TV, and before TV they were reading comic books. For generations, youths have showed they would rather sit around and play than go outside and play. It’s not technologies’ fault if a kid is lazy … it comes down to parenting, values and the child’s disposition.