As an older Gen Y member born in the early 80’s, I used to be sure there was no front where my generation had it harder than my parents did.
Every generation likes to think they are doing it tough and/or their fair share but let’s face it Millennials, voting ‘Jedi’ at elections and fighting to legalise marijuana is not exactly rolling up the proverbial sleeves is it.
I honestly saw no front where we were not sunning our collective torsos on a cruise ship compared to the hard yakka our parents, and theirs before them, had put in.
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That was until I had kids.
Now with a 4 and a 2 year old I can safely say there is at least one front (two if you count beer prices!) where my parents, and theirs before them, enjoyed luxurious bliss compared to what we face. Technology.
The further we dive into the Age of Accelerations the more I envy the not-so-big issues my parents had to face on this front.
Back in the late 80’s / early 90’s the humble AV cable was the height of technological marvel and so long as my parents understood that yellow went in yellow (and so on), we could access a new world of fun things such VCR’s, Sega and Nintendo.
Once they had the tricoloured cable down then all they needed to do was periodically warn us that being too close to the screen was bad for our eyes, and that being glued to the screen for too long each day was also a bad thing in general.
That was about it and to a large degree that was all that was needed because technology as it pertained to parenting was in its infancy for parents of Gen Y kids.
Back then to access the latest blockbuster action movie we literally had to go to blockbuster (to say nothing of the bike, older brother and money of said older brother needed to hire it!)
Today the only barrier between my two year old and 90 minutes of early morning Hollywood violence is him falling off the chair he uses to access the bench where the iPad charges.
Fortunately for my wife and I it is a swivel stool so he usually eats it but once he gets that down he is just a few lucky finger swipes (palm mashes) away from watching whatever beloved 90’s cartoon Michael Bay has chosen to ruin next on the youtube app.
Don’t even start me on the 4 year old – she has long learnt that mums phone on her bedside table is a much easier kill, stealthily sneaking in and out each morning to watch some ABC Kids on the phone (before watching ABC Kids on the TV).
Some days the ‘put that silly thing down and go outside and play’ mentality of my parents yells loud enough for me to swap some iPad time for kicks in the backyard, but our generation knows that it is much more complicated than that now.
We were the last generation that got to ‘turn that silly thing off’ and ‘go outside and play’ because we are the first generation to be absolutely sure that technology will impact our kids’ lives.
Hundreds of times, every single day.
Interaction with technologies, and the ability to absorb and master new tech, will be as important (perhaps more so) for our kids as reading and writing, not just on the employment front but perhaps even on a social interaction front.
Whether that means as much early morning iPad as a kid can cram in or not, we’re still not sure – but it is the great challenge of our generation to find out as fast as we can.
Finally we get to roll up our sleeves.