Technology is Not Neutral ImageTechnology Is Ecological:

Technology is not neutral. Most often people will tell you that that technology is neutral, the problem is not with the technology but in how it is used. Those who make this argument usually appeal to the old example: “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” Although this is true its only half the story.

The best way to describe how technology changes the modern home is to compare it to biological ecosystems. When you introduce a new species like a lion into a jungle it changes the ecology of the entire jungle. The average zebra or antelope’s lifestyle just changed! Now, consider the difference between a home that has a gun in it and one that does not. A home with a gun in it probably means the family in the home knows a thing or two about gun safety. Even if this is as simple as: “Don’t go near the locker in the corner of the basement…” Technology is not neutral.

The iPad is Like a Rattle On Steroids!

Similarly, when you bring an iPad into the home, you change the ecology of the home. I like the way Hanna Rosin put it in her article “The Touch-Screen Generation”:

Before the tablet “young children had to be shown by their parents how to use a mouse or a remote, and the connection between what they were doing with their hand and what was happening on the screen took some time to grasp. But with the iPad, the connection is obvious, even to toddlers. Touch technology follows the same logic as shaking a rattle or knocking down a pile of blocks: the child swipes, and something immediately happens. A ‘rattle on steroids.'”1)Hanna Rosin, “The Touch-Screen Generation”, available online: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/04/the-touch-screen-generation/309250/?single_page=true; for more information on how technology is ecological see: Chapter six of John Dyer’s book, From the Garden to the City: The Redeeming and Corrupting Power of Technology
[Tweet “Technology isn’t neutral, its ecological. “The iPad is a rattle on steroids.” That is not neutral.”]

What the Pros Say:

If this kind of technology is so powerful, what are parents to do to make sure our homes remain a safe place for children to grow and develop?

“The American Academy of pediatrics recommends no screen time before the age of two and no more than 2 hours a day for children over the age of two.”2)Lisa Guernsey, Into the Minds of Babes: How Screen Time Affects Children from Birth to Age Five (New York: Basic Books, 2007), 236. If you’re curious about the effect of screens on children and their development, this is the best book on the topic.

However, if your children are anything like mine, you probably don’t need anyone to convince you that too much screen time is bad for your children. When my daughter watches anything for too long, her mood changes for the worse, and becomes a little monster if you try to take “the video” away from her. It is obvious that modern parents need a strategy.

I am preparing to speak this weekend at Kedleston’s Family Adventure Camp on technology in the home, and how parents can exercise digital discernment in how they treat technology in their home and family life. Stay tuned for my upcoming post: “The SMART Strategy: Technology and Your Family” (this will go live on June 28, 2014 at 1:00 PM).

Technology is Not Neutral: The iPad is a Rattle on Steroids

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