“My son now has his first de­vice… and the re­sults are un­ex­pected”

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Front Page - David co-hosts To­day Ex­tra, 9am week­days, on the Nine Net­work.

One of the perks of be­ing a newish par­ent AND host­ing a morn­ing tele­vi­sion show ev­ery week­day is all the free ad­vice I get. Well, we all get it from such shows. There is no end to the amount of ex­perts who have sat next to me and So­nia to dis­cuss par­ent­ing.

We have talked about be­ing preg­nant, non-sleep­ing new­borns, tod­dlers and tweens, angsty teens, kids who don’t want to leave home and how to leave a de­cent will for your greedy off­spring who are eye­ing off what­ever su­per­an­nu­a­tion you have left.

All this started for me when Leo was about 18 months old, and con­tin­ues with the twins now.

One par­tic­u­larly stark bit of in­for­ma­tion was about young peo­ple and tech­nol­ogy, the big bad­die that we in the me­dia talk about a lot. To be fair, there is a bunch of scary stuff on the in­ter­net for par­ents to nav­i­gate with their kids. None of us want to talk about most of it. You know… be­gins with a “p” and sounds like corn.

The big ques­tion we are will­ing to ask, how­ever, is “When should my child get their own de­vice?” When asked, Steve Jobs said he wouldn’t let his kids have an ipad un­til much later – as their brains weren’t ready. Bill Gates didn’t let his chil­dren have mo­bile phones un­til they were 14. So of course, for Leo’s eighth birth­day, I agreed to let my dad buy him an ipod. He loves his mu­sic (Leo, as well as my father) and I thought we could still get pods that are not con­nected to the in­ter­porn. God, I just said the bad word. My father, who is cooler than I am, had to in­form me that they no longer sell the click-wheel ipod I was hop­ing for. (By the way, Ap­ple? Bring this back! It’s retro and su­per­cool.) So now Leo was go­ing to be hooked into the main­frame, like a hacker. I imag­ined los­ing him to an em­bassy, with only the stars of Bay­watch al­lowed visi­ta­tion rights. That’s when my morn­ing tele­vi­sion brain kicked in, and I turned off nearly ev­ery­thing. I restricted all in­ter­net ex­cept itunes. No so­cial me­dia ac­counts and no friends made on­line. He could only text close fam­ily and friends. That was when some­thing quite un­ex­pected as well as won­der­ful hap­pened. Leo started to text me. He’d mes­sage me to say good­night if I was out at the theatre. He would text funny emo­jis. He sent me GIFS, like danc­ing pic­tures of LOL cats or Min­ions or Avengers. He would take a photo of his beloved Swan­nies’ match and tell me what Buddy Franklin just did.

I was see­ing an­other side of him. We were com­mu­ni­cat­ing through this new medium, and it was show­ing me his sense of hu­mour, and what was go­ing through his mind. (Usu­ally some­thing about Steve Ir­win or the fact he had writ­ten a let­ter to the PM about get­ting fund­ing for his kids’ spy net­work.)

So, maybe Jobs and Gates were right. Maybe not. I think there is a mid­dle ground to be found, one that ex­ists be­tween our kids be­ing sucked into com­put­ers like Tron and us act­ing like we still only use land­lines.

And again, I also re­ally think Ap­ple needs to bring back those click-wheel ipods. How good were they?

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