One more thing

Ap­ple opin­ion

Mac Format - - CONTENTS - Gary Mar­shall has a plan B for his bitey son. “If he breaks any­thing else, I’m go­ing to tell him there’s an evil clown liv­ing in our loft,” he says.

My baby son loves tech­nol­ogy, and by love I mean he loves to chew it, bash it and break it. My Ap­ple TV re­mote looks like a prop from Jaws, (the box has been forced to go into hid­ing). And after re­peated at­tacks, my daugh­ter’s iPad mini is no more. He got the screen last week, and this week he man­aged to get the rest of it. It’s beyond eco­nomic re­pair and its re­cy­cling value is zero.

That’s aw­ful, of course. It’s a bill I could do with­out, and it won’t be the last: stud­ies sug­gest a typ­i­cal tot does £2K of dam­age to your worldly goods, a fig­ure I’m be­gin­ning to think is an un­der­es­ti­mate. In terms of dish­ing out pun­ish­ment, as par­ents, the warn­ing of iPad with­drawal is pretty much the only threat we’ve got left.

The thing is, though, that while we wait for the new iPad to ar­rive – it wasn’t next-day de­liv­ery – my daugh­ter and I have been hav­ing a bril­liant time. We’ve been do­ing chem­istry ex­per­i­ments and cook­ing lessons. We’ve been shop­ping for presents and read­ing books and telling sto­ries and swap­ping fas­ci­nat­ing facts.

She hasn’t been to­tally tech-free – the Mac­Book has thus far evaded my son’s bite radar – but she’s been iPad-free, and I’ve re­ally no­ticed a big dif­fer­ence in both of us. We’re not com­mu­ni­cat­ing in shrugs and grunts and “If I have to tell you one more time, I’m go­ing to turn off the Wi-Fi…”. We’re talk­ing, do­ing stuff. We’re present men­tally as well as phys­i­cally.

Don’t worry, I’m not go­ing to ar­gue that iPads are bad for kids. But I am go­ing to ask whether th­ese mar­vel­lous de­vices have down­sides. If we left them on Air­plane Mode more, would our adult be­hav­iour im­prove?

I sus­pect they would. For ex­am­ple, the mo­ment I turn off my iPhone alarm I’m in on­line bank­ing, ef­fec­tively guar­an­tee­ing a foul mood be­fore I’ve even had cof­fee. I’m con­stantly in apps in­stead of do­ing some­thing gen­uinely cre­ative or just mess­ing around with the kids. I’m busy, yes, but I’m busy do­ing noth­ing.

I’m not sug­gest­ing that we should chan­nel Ned Ludd and start smash­ing up our smart­phones, or that we should let our tablets fall into the angry hands of tod­dlers. But maybe we need to pause and ask our­selves a re­ally sim­ple ques­tion from time to time. And that ques­tion is this: what would, could or should I be do­ing if I didn’t have this won­der­ful gad­get in my hands?

If we left th­ese mar­vel­lous de­vices on Air­plane Mode, would our adult be­hav­iour im­prove?

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