Like me, many of you current and future parents perusing yesterday’s New York Times will have sucked up the article “Text Generation Gap: U R 2 Old (JK)” with a mixture of fascination and dread. Laura M. Holson, the article’s author, writes that
Children increasingly rely on personal technological devices like cellphones to define themselves and create social circles apart from their families, changing the way they communicate with their parents.
Holson introduces us to a smattering of parent-kid combos and the ways in which their communication is either foiled or facilitated or both, thanks to the use of cellphones and text messaging. Phone company analyst types share their studies about how many kids will be using cellphones in the near future: 81% of Americans between the ages of 5 and 24.
We are also reminded that every new device we bring into our lives is a Trojan Horse of sorts. Or, if mixing metaphors is an irresistible pastime of yours, as it is mine, let’s say a Trojan Pandora’s Box. In this little device rolls, nestling itself innocently into pockets and purses, atop chests of drawers and desks and dining tables. Then once it’s well established, out pops the realization that it has changed how we communicate, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the less so. For me, the most unsettling images in the article were those of kids lost in device-mediated conversations to others in the midst of what I would have thought would have been sacrosanct family togetherness times, like eating meals.