“Write me two pages about the iPod”

This morning Gregory came in and asked if he could take the lesser of his two capable old iPhones to school. He made the same request last night and I said “No.”  Today, after 1.5 cups of coffee, I was a little hard pressed to remember all the reasons why I didn’t want him to take it to school.  So, in order to put off the decision, and to help me remember all the reasons, I asked him to write me two pages on the iPod!  I wanted him to talk about all sides of this device issue, so that I know he understands where we all stand on it.  And since I asked him to do it, I figured I would give it a shot myself here…

Unfortunately, he was disappointed and upset with my request and with not getting his iPod back, so he harrumphed down the stairs and off to school, kicking things along the way.  He doesn’t realize how close he is to getting this device back, yet he let his warrior  role he played, and of course I was the enemy he was fighting against.  There has to be a good reason for this war, right?

The iPod is an amazing device!  It literally has the whole world within its tiny little screen, well at least the whole electronic world.  With its camera, Internet access, keyboard, browser, apps unlimited, reminders, this thing is totally amazing.  It is no wonder why the new evolution for the human race is moving from Homo Erectus back to Homo Hunchedover.  Last night at the restaurant, we shook our heads at a family where everyone was staring at their device.  And on the train and in this city, everyone is captivated and walking around hunched over.  Thank God for the quiet car, so no human will bother me while I am interacting with my iPad!

His iPod has music, with much better bass production than the older generation music iPods, which he is using right now.  And it has communications, so he can iMessage, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Skype, which are so useful at school…  Wait a minute, I should have probably put that list in naughty paragraph.  But the iPod can get the high school app, his calendar, email, which could be used for entirely good purposes.

My brother Wil and his daughter Brooke visited over Easter.  She is a college student and so we had lots to talk about regarding electronics.  One thing they said, and I kinda knew this in my gut was that kids and electronics are like water trying to find the lowest point. It doesn’t matter what road block you put in front of them, they will find another electronic outlet just like water will find the path around or pool up and flood over any roadblock.  I don’t think we are at flood stage, but I see the paths of least resistance.  This thought makes me want to open the floodgates and let the kids have full access to their electronics.  Why fight?  Can you hold back the torrent?  I think diverting the water to areas of fertile need might be the better solution.  Find the good uses of time…and electronics.

In any event, here is what I am scared about.  Gregory’s German teacher has already called to say that he is playing around more in class, with his friends iPod… He has already gotten caught texting largely inappropriate words with his friends (girls).  He gets distracted by messages popping up on all his devices when he is supposed to be doing homework, and when he is supposed to be sleeping.  His posts on Instagram have motivated some friends to stop following him, and his choice of You Tube content is largely age inappropriate for his younger sisters.  So basically, the time sucking iPod is being used for “fun” instead of its more positive uses like educating the third world.

I have tried to hold back the tide, by configuring our home network to use OpenDNS, which allows me to cut off inappropriate sites so they are not accessible from any wifi device.  The blocked sites include hate sites, pornography, social media, and video sharing like You Tube.  That works well, because if the kids really need access to a blocked site, I can allow access from anywhere.  And I really wish Gregory would use this great product called Self Control, which he learned about from his friend Micah.  This program blocks your computer from accessing anything you tell it not to during a certain amount of time, and until that time runs out, your computer’s only role is to be a force for good!

So it looks like I have a pretty dim view of the iPod world.  Although knowing its faults help me to border its uses, so that this device, which is like chocolate, can be used for dessert instead of the main meal.  During dinner, we say you’ve got to eat your vegetables before you get dessert.  Maybe we should do the same here, where you can only eat the iPod before and after school, and then only when not doing homework, and not at bedtime. Wait a minute, when is a good time then?

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