How to Be a Dad

How to Be a Dad

Techno-illogical Toddler

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My son has a toy laptop that he carries around with him nearly everywhere he goes.

It makes fun sounds, teaches letters, musical notes, animals sounds — this thing is an orchestra of learning and interactivity. The simplistic keyboard and screen make it nothing more than an oversized calculator with a digital readout. Press a button and an action happens. But it’s edu-tainment with a price.

All hail the toddler computer blogging system! NOW FOR KIDS!

I was on the couch watching him use it yesterday, when he pressed a button and it emitted a phrase I hadn’t heard before: “NEW BLOG ENTRY.” I was startled by it and asked Finn, with my head cocked to the side, to press it again. He pressed it and the plastic computer, as if the volume had been turned up to push the point home, said, “NEW BLOG ENTRY!”


I watched him for the next 15-20 minutes, now transfixed. This is what happened in the subsequent moments:

1. He’d push a button, and it would emit a sound.
2. Then, he’d furiously bang on the keys.
3. Next, he’d walk away to collect some other toys.
4. But, the evil machine would screech out a noise, a command or question.
5. Finn would drop EVERYTHING in his hands and sprint back to it.

These two guys need a little less technology in their lives.

It was my mirror image. I felt like I was looking at my life, now, as a blogger. Was he mimicking me? Was this addiction to technology and conversation and “social” media a genetic defect of mine?

I felt alternately sick and intrigued.

I want Finn to have a strong command over electronics, computers and technology. I know our society is ever-hurtling toward deeper integration into those electricity-sucking machines that do everything for us. His future depends, somewhat, on his skill with computers and data. But at the sound of a beep, he was enslaved by it. He was no longer its master, he was the hand servant. And, like me, he was acting anxious about it. He would squeal every time the mini laptop called out to him. Every little bleep and bloop was important.

I looked down at my phone and my computer behind me and my wife’s laptop and the television in front of me (turned off, mind you) and the phone in my hand and the DVR. I sighed and almost threw all of the electronickalmachines in a blender and shot it into space. At least, that’s what I wanted to do.

Let’s put on our red shoes and dance the blues, Finn.

We are so encumbered by all this stuff. I remember my father used to throw random items out of the car window as we drove on long trips. He just couldn’t take it. When he got tired of collapsing an umbrella stroller, it became a javelin. I might be starting to follow his footsteps.

So, I stared into my son’s glazed eyes, wondering if either of us can break the cycle, wondering if the two of us were there at all. Thank goodness I saw in him what I probably do all the time and ignore.

We’re going to tell him the TV is broken, to start.

I know so many parents that have lorded over us how there’s no TV of any kind in their household. And if I’m being honest, we’re on the lesser end of spectrum of TV-childcare, but maybe we need to stop judging the “Anti-TV Parents” and try this out.

We’re going to do it for seven days and see where the experiment takes us. I’ll keep you posted.


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16 Responses to “Techno-illogical Toddler”

  1. Huyen says:

    We don’t have cable anymore and I understand completely how we’ve all become slaves of our electronic devices. I feel lost if I didn’t have my phone but let alone I don’t have anyone’s phone number memorized anymore.

    Have fun on your new adventure!

  2. Once when Emma was five she said, “What’s this mom – click click click click click click? That’s you.” Damn it. That’s it, we’re going hiking on Sunday.

  3. Monica says:

    We barred TV during the week in our house and it’s done wonders for my three toddlers. They’re finally playing with all of those damn toys sitting in the play room! It was not fun the first week, but now they’re used to it and all is good. ๐Ÿ™‚ Good luck!!

  4. Pam says:

    What my family does that I really respect when we are there is from sundown friday night until sundown saturday night there is no tv, computer, phone etc. It is so refreshing to participate in when we are there!

  5. Claudia says:

    We don’t have cable at home, and only the tv in our bedroom gets a signal, so the family tv only has netflix and hulu. In other words, tv watching isn’t a big thing in our home but even when it’s on, my son completely ignores it. He DOES love Sesame Street, but even that holds maybe 10 minutes of his attention before he realizes he’d rather be playing with his toys. BUT he does LOVE computer keyboards. My husband works from home, on the computer, so he’s used to seeing him on the computer. When my husband puts him in front of the computer, you see my son push keys on the keyboard and then go to the mouse, click and scroll and then goes back to the keyboard, all while looking at the screen. He’s only just now 13 months old. CRAZY!!

  6. kevin says:

    Yeah, yeah, and then LG is going to knock on your door with a suitcase full of money and your next post will be “Why my kid can’t possibly compete in the real world without the new 3D TV from LG!” ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Tina Reher says:

    We have one of those ‘only works during day on the weekends’ TVs, computers, and iPads because our daughter – like her parents – tends to get a little caught up *cough* fully addicted *cough* to those wonders of communication/entertainment.

    That being said though, I am just about the biggest fangirl of scripted tv I know, and would never deny my child the joy of discovering that wonderfull world as she grows older. Watching Tv has been a great source of learning for me.

  8. Angus Nelson says:

    Just cut the cable two weeks ago and it’s already more peaceful… mind you, we still have an AppleTV the streams Netflix versions of Barney and Super Why. But overall, much better interaction within the family.

  9. Lacey S says:

    I HATE HATE HATE the toys that demand to be played with after x number of minutes of inactivity.

    I’m trying to look at my son learning how to use the computer and phone as something that will help him immeasurably in the future. But you’re right – he has got to learn how to use THEM. I’ll be the first to admit that he watches too much TV now (Wonderpets, how I loathe/love you… constant repetitions of all the very repetitive songs in my head, but the only way I seem to be able to get enough breathing space to make dinner/fold laundry/do dishes…

    And in throwing stuff to the sidelines… aren’t you mimicking your dad’s behavior, 20 years delayed? ๐Ÿ˜€

  10. Tami Rebekah says:

    So adorable!! Loving your blog!! New follower on BlogLovin!! Feel free to follow back!! Have a great weekend!

  11. Timmy V says:

    We’ve started removing TV from normal days and just using it only when we both absolutely need a break. It’s been interesting, consistently our daughter’s general mood and happiness levels are much better the following day.

    It’s also forced us to get away from our laptops and get outside with her, everyone wins. Nice blog post.

  12. Heather B says:

    So interesting! I’ll be looking for those updates on how its going. Seems to be something we all struggle with these days.

    I love the parents who commented about having limits on TV/Tech, like only weekends. Maybe I can convince my husband to agree to something like that…

  13. Kiel says:

    I’m a single dad with a 3 year old. A few months ago, we moved into a new condo (out of Grandma’s house) and began to move all of my pre-divorce house stuff out of storage and into our new bungalow. Among this stuff was a big heavy TV, and I was presented with the chance to really make a choice. “Do I want this thing in our house? Nobody can argue if I say no, it’s up to me.” So I joyfully gave it to a college kid.

    Let me say that I don’t miss it in the least. Life is better without it, my friend. I now appreciate entertainment much more, since we have to make deliberate choices, such as going to the movies or renting a DVD to play on the computer (I also have foregone internet for now)rather than just “seeing what’s on.” Most nights we go to the park and return home to play legos. Life is sweet without television.

    Do it.

  14. Seth Cross says:

    these gadgets are for Either in the car or Grandma’s house for us. However We have the same little leap top, used exclusively as a car toy it’s done wonders for his mind. I’ll never forget one day reading a story to him b/4 bed and him just pointing to a letter and saying it’s name! We had not even started his letters yet. He wasn’t even 2!

  15. pat says:

    sounds like a real lazy parent toy

  16. beta dad says:

    Did I ever mention that we don’t have a TV in our house?

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