Do the difficult things first

Dear boys,

We are human beings, and as an organic instruments of nature, we need to make sure we master the more difficult humanistic skills first. Simply put it, be a decent person of character and values.

But humans are lazy creatures, we often take short cut and find the easiest thing to do. We resisted that, and this shows in our digital policy. We are not introducing mobile phones, tablets and all those addictive things, because they are easy to pick up.

Mobile devices are easy to use.

This is the boon of the digital landscape, the diffusion of innovation is leaking into younger humans. Technology is getting easier and easier for us to adopt at an every younger age. It is in fact a bane for parenting.

This is so prevalent everywhere, we see last evening, at Manhatten Fish Market, a family eating dinner, 2 kids, each of them ate their meals, fed by a maid, both with a tablet in front of them, watching a cartoon while they eat.
Child as young as the age of 3 are able to use a mobile device, swipe left, to unlock it, find their favourite program on YouTube. It makes them sound and appear so smart, but it is the easiest things to do. The software tech guys made these devices so easy to use, simply because they want to make a lot of money out of their products, and they are winning, by a tonne loads of money.

Everyone is on it!

Pick up tech later, hit the beach first

It is never too late for the both of you to pick up tech at the later age, since it is so easy to use, we can leave this easy things to do till a later age. We want you to focus on ethics, values and treating people right. There is a lot of work to do in this department, and it is a constant never-ending struggle. But this is the challenge of parenting, making sure we raise good people.

Besides, we want you boys to be children, that means doing children things, play sand, enjoy the beach.

Do the tactile things, enjoy nature, understand the more humanistic problems. Understand that while we are at the beach, it rains, while we are in the water, there are temperature changes. (As we get deeper into the water, the water gets colder!)

It is an inconvenient thing to do, going to the beach, there will be grimy sand, salty water, dirt, germs and all. It is a heck a lot easier to play with a mobile phone, get on an online game, whatsapp your friends, chit chat on nothing. But who would we have raised?

Mini-mes

You see, as adult, your dad and mum, used mobile devices a lot, and Singapore has one of the highest numbers of smartphone users, do we want to see the both of you adopting our tech so at your youth? Why would we want to make you mini-me? Tech can wait, your childhood comes first.

Why would I want to turn the both of you into mini adults, and get you to adopt what adults use way before you boys need to?

Raising good adults

Being on the mobile phone, isolates you from human to human interaction. While you can make a conversation through messaging apps, nothing beats talking, person to person. Laughing and the usual banter. This is the best way to learn how to be a good person.

It also helps the both of you read body language, and develop effective emotional skills and relate to people. But one thing I can tell the both of you, the people you will be relating to in future, will not be a bunch of people friendly people, because everyone will be on their mobile phones!

 

Our family’s digital policy

Our family’s digital policy

Dear boys,

We live in a country where almost everyone has a digital mobile devices, in an MRT train, almost everyone has their eyes glues to their 5 inch world. The invasion of mobile devices permeates every fabric of our society, we cannot live without our mobile devices.

There are no shortage of statistics out there pointing to the numbers, figures and percentages on penetration, usage, ownership relating to mobile devises usage vis-a-vis the population and demographics.

It is a tool

These devices, are fun, easy and so, that makes them so convenient to go to. Your dad uses smart phone for work, and play, so does your mum, but we still talk, in person, as often as we can. We watch movies from the net, we do it as a family. It is not my habit to watch movie on my mobile phone, but listening to music; yes, as I’ve been doing that since the time of Walkman.

The tool did not become the master

It is a tool, and I can see that the both of you using it as such, The tool did not become the master. There shouldn’t be a concern since both your parents also use these devices like tools. It helps use in many, many ways, but it doesn’t have an identity over us. Your mum and I are not constantly glued to our phones, we are not obsessed chasing phantom pocket monsters, while I appreciate the technological advances in Augmented Reality, I am not a big consumer of it.

For some, the use of mobile devices has reached an addictive level, it affects relationships, social interactions and human to human (H2H) communications. Sometimes, when I am in a train and I accidentally stepped on someone’s shoes, I’d like to apologise but all I got was a blank stare. I like to plug into my music, via my smart phone and when a person accidentally stepped on my toes, they’d save on saying ‘sorry’ because  even if they say it, I’m plugged to music and probably won’t hear the apology anyway. We are all technologically swaddled in our own cocoon.

Diffusion of innovation

Mobile devices has become so prevalent that adults are getting it for the children. In Singapore, middle class affluence means mobile devices are affordable, it is a norm for people to have 2 mobile phones for reason I cannot understand nor comprehend.

In many cases, the parents are buying mobile phones for their children and thus children has become active users of mobile phones as well. You can see in many food courts all around Singapore, a child as young as 5, cannot eat a meal without glued to a show on the mobile phone, take it away and all hell breaks loose.

So I’m sure many people have devised methods, rules to limit and control the use of mobile devices.

Do we have a ‘Mobile Device Policy’ at home?

No.

Do we need one?

No.

As far as your childhood is concerned, you boys still have tonnes of toys, real physical toys. And you boys have each other, and you both are still playing with each other, making up stories, flying toy planes, fighting, chatting, arguing. There is too much banter between you both, that there is simply no need for a mobile device to be introduced into your life. I still see you boys going to your toys and playing with each other so this is still a healthy way of bring up the both of you and in no time, now or the near future, will I plan to introduce mobile devices into your lives.

Yes, I do let the both of you play with the Ipad (thanks to Auntie Kat, who gave it  to us), I observed that there seem both of you are not addicted in anyway to it, at any given opportunity. There are times, I have to tell the both of you to stop using the Ipad, or stop playing games on your parents’ phone, but I also have to nag at the both of you to drop your toys and come for dinner.

In short, these mobile devices are part of your play activities, not the main activities. Which is why there is no need for me to restrict the amount of time you boys are on these devices, simply because you boys are not clocking massive amount of time on these devices.

Not keeping up with the Jones

In school, many kids have mobile phones, I didn’t get on for you boys, as there is no need to have one. You mum are there to fetch you most of the time, and if you boys need help, you can head down to the general office and ring us from there. When we are out, you boys are almost never out of our sight and there is no need for you to go wandering off on your own, and have to rely on a mobile phone to reach us. We as your parents, are always never far, in flesh and blood.

Technology is a good servant, but a bad master

While we cannot escape the increasing use of technology, mobile devices and other kind of gadgets and stuffs, we must not forget that we are after all, humans, we use all these to leverage and make our lives better. But ultimately, our lives are better if we deal with reality squarely in the face, and not escape into a 5 inch world, playing games, engrossed with social media, stuck to chasing Korean dramas.

Life will always evolve around human to human interaction. You cannot avoid suffering, making difficult choices, screw ups and dealing with people. Having a phone helps to make our lives easier, but it does not make life. We have to make life, we have to make our lives work, and we must never forget that we are the masters of our own lives, and these devices are not our life, they do not dictate us, define us, and we must not allow ourselves to become unwitting slaves to these devices