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Internet of Things (IoT) 5 December 2018

Kindergarten Tech Cop: The Job I Never Wanted

Sara Given
By Sara GivenGuest Author

This month, we’ve asked parents to share their experiences of raising kids in the tech age. Today’s guest author is Sara Given, creator of the viral blog “It’s Like They Know Us,” which skewers the myth of the perfect parent. She’s also the author of Parenting Is Easy: You’re Probably Just Doing It Wrong.

“Mom, what’s your passcode?”

I looked up to find my 5-year-old daughter jabbing her finger at my iPhone screen. She continued, “My school iPad has a passcode. What’s yours? I need to take pictures of the cat.”

This was a tame request compared to her other inquiries, (“Can I have a little brother?”), but it bothered me for two reasons: First, I knew that if I gave her that passcode, she would immediately take 5,000 pictures of the floor. And second, I hadn’t considered that at age 5 she’d already be so immersed in technology. That she’d know the lingo. That she probably already had more Instagram followers than me. #floorpics

While my daughter chattered away about the cartoon-character math app she’d been using in class, I found myself facing a dilemma: I want to limit my child’s exposure to anything more complicated than an Etch-A-Sketch, and she desperately wants the opposite. In my defense, an Etch-A-Sketch won’t track your data or sell your financial information to some shady dude thousands of miles away. People can’t hack your Etch-A-Sketch and draw inappropriate things on the screen. (You still have to do that the old-fashioned way). No, an Etch-A-Sketch just works for a few weeks before parts of the screen go dead for no reason and it gets thrown into a box in the basement. Those were the days!

But my daughter, like most kids her age, feels differently. And she does have a point. I would much rather learn math from my favorite TV characters instead of an old workbook. (I bet Chip Gaines is great at trigonometry). Plus, all of the flashy new toys have some kind of online component. Even Barbie, who turns 60 this year, comes with WiFi capabilities. The technological advancement of society isn’t going to slow any time soon. My choice now is to navigate the digital landscape one step ahead of her, or invest in a nice rocking chair where I can sit and yell at passersby about how it used to take 5 whole minutes to log onto the Internet. 5 MINUTES! And we LIKED it! That dial-up screech made us feel alive!

So as fun as it would be to lean in to geezerdom, I will do the responsible thing and start researching: What is the best way to secure our family devices? How are kids her age being monitored at school? Are cartoon genies really qualified to teach math? It will be time consuming and probably a little confusing, but so is all of parenting. And who knows, maybe someday my daughter will pursue an exciting career in tech; it is certainly the way of the future. But for now, she’ll just have to settle for taking pictures of the kitchen floor.

The connected future is here. Imagine the possibilities. #GetIoTSmart


Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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