Technology is really something else. It’s amazing what we can do with phones, computers, video game systems and the like these days. The effect they have on children is astounding. There are millions of studies over the past 80 years on what technology does to children. What they don’t talk about is the psycho-behavior phenomenon. My children are angels. Well, most of the time. Okay. I’m lying. A good bit of the time they are mostly angels. Overall they are entertaining, mostly well behaved children most of the time. Until, of course, the phone rings. My cell phone emits some sort of weird chemical, that when it is answered that makes my children go fool, as my dad would say. Children who were just playing along together. Children who were upstairs in the playroom getting along famously. Children who were satiated and copasetic. As soon as the chemical is released from the phone they go nuts. Their voices suddenly raise three of four levels of volume. They forget they are inside. They lose any sense of rules or order. The chemical causes chaos. I don’t know how it works. I answer the phone and my children – my precious quiet children – begin fighting with each other. There is hitting, biting, throwing, screaming. People get hurt, suddenly everyone is ravishing with hunger and the world is a dark and cruel place. Martial law reigns. The baby, who was sleeping soundly for hours wakes up as if on cue from some evil force. The children who were for over an hour engaged in playing with My Little Ponies upstairs are suddenly downstairs attempting to see who can actually over talk the other. And the one who just had snack 30 minutes ago suddenly is so hungry she is crying that she is starving and will likely waste away into nothing before I can get off the phone.
My poor, poor children. So neglected for the 5 minutes I’ve been on the phone. Those children who I couldn’t have possibly gotten things for prior to the phone ringing, and who of course can’t stand to wait until I’m off the phone for whatever trivial item needs my attention. As a good parent, I apologize to the person on the other end of the line over the screaming and gnashing of teeth. I hang up and instantly the children are over all that ails them. Everyone quits fighting, no one is hungry or parched, and they are back to playing quietly. The baby quits crying and all is well with the world. It’s a chemical released by the phone. Or any communication technology. And it’s not just my children.
Web cams are a wonderful thing. We can talk to great-grandma, friends, grandparents, cousins. You name it. Web cams on the computer, web cams in the Xbox Kinect – we’ve got them all. Put up the web cam and the children begin running around and screaming. They feel the need to act like circus side show freaks. As we watch the children on the other end (usually nephews and nieces), they act the same way. As adults, we try to ‘ignore’ the chaos and continue the conversation with the adult on the other web cam as though nothing abnormal is going on. Eventually everyone agrees this technology, while cool, is incredibly pointless while there are children in the room and we give up. Almost instantly my angels return. They are quiet and acting like their normal little kid selves again. I’ll figure it out one day. It’s odorless, colorless, and only works on people under 18. Secret invisible kid-mind altering chemicals. Punishing adults who crave conversation with other adults. Somehow I think Steve Jobs is probably behind it. He is the root of all that is evil, especially in cell phones.