Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Information Age run amuck

If you still harbor any doubts as to whether the information age, techno dominance, or whatever you choose to call it, has fully encompassed the younger set, I witnessed the unequivocal answer this morning. Our twelve-year-old grandson went to the bathroom and used his cell phone to ask his grandmother for a roll of toilet paper. Is that a giant leap for mankind, or what?

He has so many gadgets there’s hardly room for a bed in his bedroom. A TV came first, or course. Then he needed a Play Station and a DVD player. To hook all that up and make it work properly required a spaghetti-like heap of wires and cables and adapters. When I got a new computer a couple of years ago, I gave him my old PC with a flat screen monitor and inkjet printer.

Meanwhile, in order to play games on the go, he needed a Game Boy, then upgraded to a PSP (that’s Play Station Portable to the uninitiated). When Comcast came out with its On Demand setup at no extra charge, we ordered it so Sarah could get the Hallmark Channel with its family-friendly movies. Justin discovered it had all sorts of cool features for replaying recent shows and bouncing about the channels. We got tired of switching back and forth from On Demand to the regular remote, so moved the OD box to Justin’s TV.

He really needed an iPod, and somebody gave him one for his birthday a year ago. It didn't take too long to lose it, as small as they are. He recently got another one, but I think he's left it somewhere he doesn't remember.

The burgeoning array of electronic devices soon required a corner computer desk. That further limited the space in his room. As with all kids, I guess, he chooses to refer to his “wants” as “needs.” The next mantra became “I need a laptop.” Every kid in his class has one, he claimed, without any evidence to back it up.

My current laptop is a Gateway that I bought on sale a couple of years ago. I use it on the road and when writing in the living room seated in my recliner. After his endless agitating, we told Justin we’d give him some money on his birthday and he could take the rest out of his savings and buy a laptop. He “had” to have a Gateway, of course. When Tennessee had it’s annual sales tax holiday prior to school opening last month, we found a Gateway on sale at Best Buy.

The first week he carried it around the house with him. He wanted to take it to the store and to church and anywhere else, but we put the kibosh on that. Now I have to get a parallel-to-USB adapter cable so he can print from the laptop. Oh, the joys of technology.

His friends are now using some new kind of PSP-type gadget. He needs one, but that has been sidetracked temporarily by his latest fascination. He’s taking band this year and just acquired a snare drum and kit. In addition to the snare and sticks, it includes a small xylophone. It’s probably the only non-electronic thing he’s become fascinated with lately.

Oh, that cell phone he used in the bathroom? His mother, whom he sees infrequently, gave it to him on his birthday. He gets the Internet and all that good stuff on it. I’m not sure how long she’s going to be willing to pay the phone bill. We’ll see. Meanwhile, we try to monitor his forays into cyberspace as much as possible, though it ain’t easy. He’s on Facebook and no telling where else. Last night he showed me a website he’s set up.

Hang onto your cyberhats.


Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

This made me laugh. What a clever kid to think to use a cell phone from the bathroom! When I lived in Taiwan I learned that want and need are the same word in Mandarin - they assume no one would want things they don't need.

Kaye George said...

Excellent use of technology! And have fun with that drumming. I grew up with a set in the dining room (my brother's) and one son was a drummer. There are a whole lot of worse things for teenagers to do.

Chester Campbell said...

That probably worked for the Chinese, Jane, but things are a little differently here.

I suppose you're right, Kaye. And there is one saving grace. The kit included a practice pad that he can beat on and it doesn't make so much noise.

michele rosenberg said...

And then there's me. I'm trying to decide what to do with the electrical typewriter in my upstairs hall. I remember marveling at this contraption wondering how I would be able to use it after using an unpluggable regular typewriter.

At least I don't miss carbon paper.

Michele Rosenberg

jrlindermuth said...

With four grandsons ranging in age from six to sixteen this sounds all too familir to me.
I sometimes long for the day (not so long ago) when you could throw your Remington on the floor, kick it for allowing you to make mistakes, then continue using it without need to call in the techno patrol.

Chester Campbell said...

Yep, Jack, those old metallic marvels would take a lot of punishment. I had a Royal I bought in 1953 that lasted a long time. But I sure enjoy the flexibility of word processing.