Rediscovering the 'Me' in 'Mumeeeeeee'

'I have always thought that there is no more fruitful source of family discontent than a housewife’s badly-cooked dinners and untidy ways'. (Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management, 1861)

March 29, 2011

'cos we are living, in a digital world....

...and I am not a digital girl!

I'm back on the Technological Progression bandwagon I'm afraid. More kicking and screaming and going rigid and refusing to be strapped into the car seat of digital technology.

I am, this time, fretting about a picture I saw in my local newspaper which showed a class of Junior Infants (that's five-year-olds), proudly writing their letters on their brand new iPads. I saw the picture and didn't think, "Wow, that's amazing. How forward-thinking." I thought, "Oh my god, that's awful." It was as jarring as looking at a picture of a three-year-old beauty pageant. "Whatever happened to the good old days of copy books and a pencil?" I remonstrated to my husband (as I pulled down the blackout blinds, darned my socks and listened to Gracie Fields on the radio).

I know I sound massively old-fashioned and I probably know that it is inevitable that our children will be taught interactively. I also know that it's good for the trees, but I am still more than a bit uncomfortable at the thought of my children having their first school experience, and learning how to write and read (and draw quite probably) on an iPad. Can't we hold off until they're a bit older? Like, eighteen?

As a family who have held off on the Wii and the DS (and our children are under the age of six so I don’t think that’s a particularly radical decision), I just feel afraid that our children will know nothing other than to stare at a screen for every aspect of their life. They will read ebooks, play interactive sports on the TV, Skype their nana, waste countless years of their lives with some Angry Birds. Maybe I was naively hoping that school would be the final, digital frontier.

Looks like I was wrong.

What do you think? Are iPads in the classroom an excellent idea or just an unavoidable sign of the times you'd rather live without?



  1. No, I'm 100% with you. Seeing that would have shocked me too. I embraced technology myself but I think we should shield our children from it as long as possible. I've had to hide my iPhone now as my daughter (only just turned 2) was learning how to use it better than me. I walk into the room and find her playing on it.

    Although I'm one of those strange mums who even hates seeing DVD players in cars. What ever happened to playing 'I Spy' or 'First to spot Blackpool Tower' like we did when I was a kid?

    I cringed when my friend bought her 4 year old a DS.

    I'll probably end up changing my thoughts and ways as the digital pressure mounts but, until then, I have put a digital force field around my daughter ;)

  2. Oh god how awful - I'm with you on this and listening to Gracie Fields as I type. I have friends who have Ipads that their kids use and the DS seems to be as normal as a book at bedtime. It's not for me or my family. Just isn't. If they use computers at pre-school then that's learning I guess, but not at home. Progress is a bit scary at times...

  3. I am totally with you on this one, but it's a difficult battle.
    I have resolutely stuck to no X Box or Playstation and apart from the odd whine about being the "only one in the class" without such gadgetry, my twelve year old son is managing okay. However, every pal's home he visits, he's playing 15's games. So it's difficult.
    My biggest gripe with the whole screen thing is all those hours kids are immersed in them (be it DS, X-Box, I-phone, playstation or telly) and all the other stuff they are NOT doing, such as playing outside (or inside) helping around the house or just verbally communicating with those around them, even if it's bickering!
    Hot cross mum, this is a great post and as you can see, you've really hit my rant button...!

  4. Hello
    Just been reading your blog - love it and am a bit in awe! Agree with this post as my 3 year old already knows more than me which is slightly disturbing.
    Maybe you can pop along to mine some time, would love your views ;0)
    Take care

  5. Um. At the Fancy House, the Wii is like wine. It's for Mommy.

  6. This is a great post and I'm with you definitely ( although I don't have Gracie fields playing)!! My boys are 10&12 and I limit their console time to weekend only and for a certain amount of time each day. However it really is hard when they have friends around or visit their houses as some kids are left freely to play as long as they want! It's also difficult to limit the games to their age range too. So well said you.
    Great blog by the way will definitely be following x

  7. Firstly, I have no idea what an Angry Bird is - I too am a technophobe, dragging myself screaming ino the modern world - I have a Facebook account but have no idea what to do with it. Daisy is in Junior Infants and thankfully is fully pen and papering her way through her letters. But she has a scary addiction to my Iphone apps (admittedly I downloaded some games to keep them distracted in an emergency) and I suspect she'll out tech me in about two years. Hopefully old and new can co-exist in harmony... although who can afford Ipads for 5 year olds????

  8. I have mixed feelings about this..I too was shocked when my SIL whipped out the DS in a restaurant for her 5 yr old so we could all eat in peace. And I would love for children to be taught the old-fashioned way. But then I hadn't reckoned on having a son with aspergers who is only interested in computers. He also has huge problems with handwriting and mostly uses a laptop in school His eldest sister is a techie as well (but also a gymnast so she does do other stuff). The other thing of course is that not all children are lucky enough to have a choice re technology: many families still do not have computers, broadband or smart phones and so school is the only place they can learn about this area that is likely to be so vital to their job prospects x

  9. I didn't think it was that shocking...

    I agree that there is a good reason to limit "screen time". And certainly access to certain uses of technology. But writing is writing - if they were forming letters in sand - something a lot of learners do - would that be wrong because it's not pen and paper?

    But then I'm a geek. Moo loves playing memory cards with cards. And she loves it on the ipad. One is more portable. One is better for playing with friends. It's horses for courses.

    Computers and technology are a part of life. I love a good book. But if in years to come, Moo is reading, I'm not bothered if that's on an e-book reader or on paper. It's the words, the ideas, the escapism and the challenge I want her to experience most.

    Technology needs to be supervised, because there are inappropriate uses for it. Just like there are inappropriate books. And paper materials which are just "meh" - it's all about the content.

    But personally? I'm all for it.

    My rant over ;-)

  10. I'm pretty relaxed about technology and kids. Yes they need to write manuscript and be able to understand an index and all the traditional stuff - but the reality is most of use screens for 95% of our work. I'm a Company Secretary of a large PLC - yet other than physically signing my name almost everything is digitised. At home we write the odd thank you card, but beyond that it's email.

    And we should remember that technology also brings opportunity - like your ebook and blog. Blogs have given a voice to millions of people; they have encouraged kids and mums and granddads to write and share. I can't think of anything that has brought more people to writing - and ultimately it is the words, not the'pen or pad' that counts.

    Shameless plug - I'm running a course on blogging for writers at the Ty Newydd national writing centre in Wales - details here:

  11. I absolutly understand your reservations, particularly that we don't want technology to take over from good things like telling kids bedtime stories. However, I think that technology is an ever present part of young children's lives these days and their literacy will be very different in the future to the way we see it today.
    With this in mind I don't think we should ignore technology for young children but need creative people who can utilisise it in innovative ways that will involve lots of interaction and active learning. I believe that learning should be based on children's motivations and interests if we are to keep them engaged as learners.
    I am currently applying for a Phd looking at the role of technology in teaching early literacy. This in particular will look at giving boys the opportunity to engage with early literacy experiences through the medium of technology. I belive that this will increase their motivation and lead to a closing of the gap between girls and boys literacy scores. I aim to set up a fully play based classroom and offer opportunities such as mark making using touch screens and digital photography and sound recording to engage with sounds and create stories alongside more traditional activities.
    If you would like to read more visit


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