While reading about the theories of digital media, I was particularly interested in the Domestication of Media Theory because it hits close to home.
In my family, I have seen the debate over the adoption of technology change dramatically over the last decade because we have two children who are exactly 10 years apart in age. When our 18-year-old was in early elementary school, we questioned whether or not he should get a Game Boy Advance. We didn’t have a problem with video games, but we feared that handheld game systems would take over our lives because it transported video games to everywhere we went in the community – from the car to restaurants and even the ball field. In the end, our son did get the game system he wanted, and we all adapted to the adoption of gaming technology in different segments of our daily lives. We didn’t allow it to be used at the dinner table, but it was a great diversion at other times like waiting in a long line at the grocery store.
Fast-forward to today, and we are having a renewed debate about what technology we should embrace for our 8-year-old son. Over the past year he has begged for his own smartphone and tablet, and he just asked to add a smartwatch to his birthday list. We now worry about whether or not a third-grader should be connected to the outside world at all times, completely blurring the boundaries between our private lives and the public sphere.
To be honest, the idea of an 8-year-old being continually linked to the outside world frightens me, and so far we have been the conservative parents telling him that he is simply too young. The argument is a difficult one because we are witnessing other families adopt the the devices with open arms. The question is, how will we learn to adapt the technology so that it fits our belief system while also letting our son experience the benefits of the digital world?