Dear Atticus and Zane,
At 10 and 12, you’re on the cusp now, slightly over it if I’m being honest, where childhood blurs between the respective lure of technology and teddy bears. The former a want during every waking hour and the latter a need in your arms while the batteries charge. Only part of that is a metaphor.
In honor of Father’s Day, we asked three notable bloggers to pen a letter to their kid about technology.
This may come as something of a surprise to you, especially since I tend to treat your screen time as a privilege and not a right, but I’m thrilled that you have both taken to technology the way that you have. All of that stuff about unplugging once in a while is meant to encourage you to be well-rounded enough in life to place the proper context upon the electronics that you desire, and, well, it’s the only leverage that you always respond to, so sorry about that.
The truth is, your time spent working and playing with phones, tablets, computers and the like, it is your right — the right of future generations to push boundaries and progress, along with the responsibility to make a big world smaller so that more stories are told — and heard. It is the right to raise voices and awareness, and the effects that surely follow.
Perhaps it is hard for you to comprehend how small your world is now, but thanks to the tablets you constantly hold in your hands, you are literally a swipe away from connecting with anyone, anywhere, at any time.
When I was your age (you knew this was coming), we made friends, enjoyed each other for a while, and then our friends moved, or we moved, and life went on without them. We may have exchanged a letter or two (BY MAIL!) and enjoyed the occasional phone call (ON A LANDLINE!), but more often than not we never saw each other again.
You, however, are able to keep in regular contact with those you care about. You have daily video chats with classmates to do your homework, you spend hours each week hanging out with your friends in Sweden. You would talk to your grandparents all of the time if they could only remember how to use the technology they have — technology they bought for that very reason.
The point is, you are experiencing connectivity in a way that was once the stuff of science fiction, and a connected world is a better world.
There are stories still unwritten, some will be yours to tell and others but to listen, and thanks to the continued progress of technology they will all have their turn to make a difference. It’s up to you to frame the context.
Please text me back when you have a minute.
Deemed “the activist dad” by Upworthy (and one of the “funniest dads on Twitter” by Mashable), Whit is the author of “The Parents’ Phrase Book” and co-founder of the philanthropic organization Dads 4 Change. In 2015 he won the Iris Award for Best Writing in the online parenting space. His work has appeared in several publications including that site you like. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, two sons, and too many pets.