Silicon Valley Innovators vs. Parenting. Who do we blame for our screen obsessed children?

Playing field to the elites

I read an opinion piece in today’s Washington Examiner.  The title of the piece is “The touchscreen revolution tilts the playing field to the elites.” Misleading, right?  If I were to just read the title alone, I would think the article is going to talk about how people of monetary privilege have an advantage over less privileged and lower income people when it comes to having access to the world of tablets and smartphones.  Wrong. 

The poor are on screens more than the wealthy?  FALSE.

The article proceeds to make the claim that the working class and poor are on screens more than the wealthy.  This was the exact quote, “As more screens appear in the lives of the poor, screens are disappearing from the lives of the rich.  The richer you are, the more you spend to be off screen.” Naturally, I was intrigued on how screen time and socio-economics correlate. 

Things to consider

Okay, while there may be an element of truth to the fact that wealthy folks have the means to pay for experiences, travel, specialty programs for their children, club sports, etc.,  this might be one of the most outrageous claims I’ve heard yet.  The author decides to attack the Silicon Valley innovators who bring this technology to us yet “go to great lengths” to limit their own children’s screen time.  “Go to great lengths” stands out in blue font so you can click on it, only for it to take you to an article titled “Silicon Valley Nannies are Phone Police For Kids.”  

Here’s another thing to consider, it’s much easier on the parent for the nanny to put up with the belly aching that might ensue with limited screen time. Those that don’t have the financial means to employ a nanny are going to be given the gift of whining and complaining children when there are screen time rules.  God forbid, we have to deal with unpleasant children. The only thing accurate about this author’s piece is yes, the Silicon Valley innovators don’t have to listen to the whining. The nanny gets to hear it. However, it’s still not good enough for me. I’m outraged by the overarching theme of the article because it is merely a diversion from the real issue. Parenting. 

Myth vs. Reality

Last I checked, I am a working class, non-elite, start-up entrepreneur, married to a police officer.  In case you haven’t looked into this fun fact, police officers make very little income.  Yet, somehow we manage to create a screen free environment for our children.  We don’t have a nanny, but we have had babysitters. We also prefer our babysitters interact with our children through board games, card games, and shooting hoops in the back yard. Hmmm, not too dissimilar from the Silicon Valley families who prefer their nannies do those same things with their children. 

Imagine if kids used their imagination.

I have two children that take the tabs off of soda cans and turn them into characters, because they use their imagination.  I let them be BORED and allow them to figure out something constructive to do. Let’s look at the inner city housing projects.  I see children as young as two and as old as twenty two years old out on the recreational basketball court, or jumping rope, or playing on a playground. Before anyone accuses me of being racist, I have seen White, Black, Hispanic, and Asian people who inhabit the inner city housing projects.  Furthermore, my father grew up in the Pruitt-Igoe, Clinton-Peabody, and Blumeyer Housing Projects in St. Louis City.  He was a white man. My point is, they aren’t on screens.  They are outside playing in a screen free environment.  They have access to other forms of entertainment.  This isn’t about race and quite frankly, this technology crisis we are in isn’t about class either.

 

Blaming the money and not the parenting

 Smartphones and tablets aren’t cheap.  Tablets and iPads range from $300-$1000 new, and smartphones range from $100-$800 new.  In fact, the newest iPhone version rolling out soon will be $1.000. How are the working class and poor affording these devices?  I know many wealthy people and I know many lower income families.  Guess what, they ALL have devices people!  Clearly, screen time and socio-economics don’t match up. 

This opinion piece has it all wrong. What does make sense to me, is that this is a parenting issue. Not a class issue.  It’s an attempt to place blame on money verses parenting. It’s nothing short of a poor excuse. Yes, let’s blame the Silicon Valley elites.  They are most certainly the ones who purchased the device for you, handed it to your child, and robbed them of physical activity and good use of imagination. 

Where were we before the tech revolution?

How about this?  Were women widowed during the Vietnam War?  Were women left to raise 3, 5, 8 children with no husband? I’m sure many struggled financially to make ends meet.  Did they then have to work more jobs, bring in more income as a sole provider for the family?  Where were their tablets and smartphones to help them out?  They didn’t have built in babysitters to keep them occupied. They didn’t have the luxury of a device to entertain their rowdy and rambunctious little ones. This opinion piece is a desperate attempt to point the finger at the wrong thing. An article to create smoke and mirrors and absolve us of our parenting obligations. 

Accountability

It seems to be the common method in our culture today.  Everyone and everything is responsible for our shortcomings. If you’re obese, we blame the fast food industry. If we get scalded by a hot cup of coffee, we blame the lack of label warning, HOT COFFEE. Nicotine addiction is absolutely the fault of Phillip Morris or Winston-Salem. Now, we can add finger pointing at the Silicon Valley innovators to the list. Rich people can pay to keep their kids off of screens, but the lower socio-economic class will have to live a life tethered to the almighty device.  Do you hear how senseless that sounds? Screen time and socio-economics have nothing to do with one another. Proceed with caution as you receive information from the media. This is one piece that is absolutely ridiculous. It’s truly lame journalism.  #keeptalking

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