I feel as if we’ve entered a new era of childhood in our house lately. Or maybe that I’ve entered a new era of motherhood. I have so far been very resistant to the dawning of gadget-hood, but No.1 son is heading towards 9 now, and has long been reporting tales of ‘everyone else’ in his class having an ipod or a phone. I’ve dismissed these as the school yard tales they probably are, but just after Christmas a very old, very knackered iphone that has been kicking around the house as a desperate reserve found it’s way into No.1 son’s hands. Ostensibly, according to the Mr, this was as a replacement for the cheapo mp3 thing he has listened to death. Predictably though he quickly discovered how to download games and voila, Fear No 1 is made flesh. Conspicuous hunching in corners, angry strops when asked to put it down, really angry strops when told it comes out of his weekly gaming hour. He cried, I cried, guilt etc… He even chastised himself for not being able to resist! More guilt anyone?
So after much deliberation, we reached a mutual decision that the games would go. Instead we reinstated the weekend-only console time that had seen us good over the last couple of years, and leaves everyone more secure. Not wanting to totally deflate him however, we decided that we’d set him up with texts, facetime and email and let him take charge of his own little social world. Okay so that world only extends north to his grandparents and south-east to his cousins, is wifi only, and will be monitored like goddam MI5 but it feels positive. And kind of sad.
Somehow the absence of technology kept him young, it’s one of those markers that defines childhood these days. Give him a phone of his own and he’s launched headlong into the world. The really big one, with cyber baddies and terrorist private chat groups. Thankfully it is also a world which pulls minorities out of the shadows, exposes terrifying truths and can organise a party for a thousand people in a single evening. I’m focussing on the good stuff and hoping that’s what he discovers.