Technology and Patience
A little while ago I helped my daughter present her homework assignment to her class of sparkly,
enthusiastic year three and four students (6-8 year olds). The topic was vintage film cameras, my
daughter had created a poster and we had some of my old film cameras to show her classmates.
The children found the whole thing quite fascinating, and a little hard to grasp: there were no digital
screens on these cameras so you automatically see the image you had just taken. The concept of
having to finish a film, take it some where to get developed, wait three days,then go back to pick it
up was completely foreign to them. That's because they are an instant generation: waiting for
anything is an unfamiliar concept. Technology , especially the Internet, puts everything in their hot
little hands at lightening speed.
Homework assignments no longer start with a trip to the library, finding an awkwardly heavy
encyclopaedia and writing notes with a trusty old bic pen after searching page after page for
relevant information. Children now 'Google it', create a Pic Collage then print the assignment from
their iPad. Job done. Songs can be downloaded off iTunes in seconds for a couple of dollars, no
waiting for hours for to come on 'rtr countdown' and making a scratchy, illegal recordings from it on
your cassette player....not to mention all the fast forwarding and rewinding that came with it. Want
to watch you favourite to program? No need to wait until Tuesday's 4:30 pm. It's on Netflix right
now, anytime you want it. Technology is on demand.
Parenting in this unrecognisable landscape of modern childhood is both terrifying and convenient.
It's a balancing a act of outside time vs screen time. Arts and crafts vs mine craft. It's about
ensuring your children keep up with technology without it taking over their lives. But technology has
its benefits too: Stressful long car rides normally littered with countless 'Are we there yets' and
back seat fights are transformed into peaceful journeys by games and movies downloaded on
iTunes. It can be incredibly educational: There are maths apps, spelling games and art lessons all
available on their iPad or tablet. I myself love that searching for a recipe on my iPad negates the
need for a million recipe books: a simple google search in minutes and I find exactly what I'm after.
I use it for exercise: I have running apps on my phone and yoga on my iPad. My career depends
upon it: technology and photography are forever entwined. Facebook allows me to promote my
business, and keep in touch with friends and family miles apart. (Social media needs requires
caution though: looking through Facebook can easily chew through chunks of precious time like
nothing else on earth). Emails are a speedy way to keep in touch too, but part of me misses the
simple joy of a handwritten letter arriving in the mail, the organic feel of the paper, and the
miniature beauty of a tiny stamp with an artful post mark. Somehow, this new world of ever
increasing technology and innovation leaves us with a yearning for this not too distant past world
where things moved slower, where patience was a requirement, and we had a greater appreciation
for things because nothing was instantaneous. Perhaps most importantly, in these moments of
'waiting', there was time to ponder, to reflect and to live and love more mindfully.
These days vintage shops are popping up everywhere, selling anything from old typewriters and
glass milk bottles, to retro furniture that evokes memories of Nanas house and everything in
between. Knitting has made a serious come back, and so have record players. Vinyl records are
now readily available again. The art of film photography is, happily, very much alive. The past is
making a come-back. We are craving a simpler time.
The secret to our children surviving and thriving in this technological age is to get the balance
right: to get the right mix of screen time with tree climbing, bull rush, woolen blanket forts bike
rides and grubby knees. The same applies to adults too. We need to be more
mindful, to counter act the stress that can sometimes be an unintended consequence of being
switched 'on' constantly: slowing down, and doing whatever simple thing brings you happiness,
whether it be walking in our stunning country side or the baking your Grandmothers infamous
scone recipe from a real, much loved and dog-eared recipe book. Remember to disconnect from
the internet and connect with those you love. Put on an old Elvis record, pick up some knitting needles and teach your children that the King, scones, vinyl and patience never go out of style.