If there is one nugget of wisdom I would like readers to take away from our various perambulations through the land of poorly thought out but unfortunately common internet memes related to parenting and or childhood it is this; if you are about to say/write/think something that begins with some form of the phrase “Kids these days…” these please for the love of Zod STOP. Don’t go any further. Because it has been this bloggers experience over the years that it is most likely that whatever follows “days” will be something rude, offensive, ageist, often sexist or bigoted, usually ignorant and often downright malicious or tragically wrong.
8 year olds these days have Facebook, Twitter, phones and iPads. When I was their age I had a colouring book crayons and imagination.
Where to start. Well first of all we are left with the interesting quandary of where to place our intrepid cultural critic in space and time. We do have some clues. The British “colour” I suppose places them somewhere within the Commonwealth, perhaps England or Canada. Time wise we need to dig deeper. In comparison to the wealth of electronic doodads that today’s spoiled bratniks possess, our friend here was left with a single solitary colouring book, crayons (perhaps not even a complete set of crayons!) and their “imagination”. So we are talking here about a childhood that predates television perhaps? Or even radio? Like the 1920’s? Is our meme creator even now booking tickets on their long delayed vacation to The Undiscovered Country?
As much as I like the image of an octogenarian crank shaking his fists at the kids on his lawn with their whiz bangs and their thingamabobs, let’s be honest, those folks aren’t exactly famous for their internet savvy. The creator of our meme is much more likely to be someone my age (45, leading edge Gen-Xer) or maybe my Mom’s age (68 and going on IMPOSSIBLE TO KILL.) Maybe a British Boomer envious of the luxuries afforded kids these days in comparison to his lean childhood in the collapsing flan that was postwar Britain? Or maybe a bitter grunge rocker disappointed that the youth of today appear to be actually enjoying themselves?
Whatever it’s origins, the intent of our meme is clear. Kids these days are spoiled with all their electronic babysitters. They spend too much time texting one another or tweeting or twonking or whatever, and not enough time using their imaginations. Like we did when we were young. Which is bullshit on multiple levels. Firstly it is a false dichotomy. There is nothing preventing an 8 year old from spending way too much time on her iPod Touch as well as filling up page after page of blank paper with the products of her imagination. For evidence I present exhibit A, on the left, the Hellions art wall.
Allow me to be completely honest. My kids are complete little iAddicts. They play Minecraft, Angry Birds, or whatever else catches their fancy. The oldest has seen every episode of Mythbusters by streaming Netflix to her iPod Touch. The Grommet has an entire Youtube catalog of vbloggers he follows. At the same time we manage to go through paper by the REAM.
Secondly it ignores how much more our kids can do with their imaginations when they access to these awesome tools! My iPad has at least four drawing/painting programs on it. Crayola has dozens of digital tools and apps both for devices as well as in collaboration with analog artwork. We have a simple animation program on the iPad, Toontastic, that allows kids to create little animated shows and share them with friends around the world if they wish. The Peanut has been using it since she was FOUR. Do they waste a lot of their time on junk? Sure they do. But it’s not like there has ever been any generation of middle class kids who spent every free moment in a state of artistic activity. Do we have power struggles over electronics time? Sure, that’s part of being a parent, just like my Mom and Dad battled with me over TV time or my little brothers over Nintendo time, (I’m 16 years older than my youngest brother, so my parents fight with the boob tube ran from Gilligan’s Island on a black and white TV to Nintendo 64 and Myspace). It’s life, and the very definition of a first world problem.
But here’s the really sad part of this meme. The part that makes me cringe. This paean to a lost era of boundless Crayola powered vistas of the imagination is FUCKING DULL AS SHIT!. Seriously, whoever self righteously penned this crap couldn’t get more out of MS Paint than a thought balloon on a blue background. Even the font is boring. For the love of Lord Voldemort practice what you preach! So for the sake of sanity and artistic integrity I commissioned a replacement.
Courtesy of The Schmoo, who is nine years old and LOVES MINECRAFT. She also wonders about these crazy people who let their 8 year olds on Twitter.
As always, if you have found a particularly awful internet meme about parenting or childhood, share it in the comments or drop us a line at the Grounded Parents Contact Form or tweet us a link @GroundedParents or @blotzphoto and we’ll do our best to smash it into random bits of smoking metal.
Better Meme Credit:The Schmoo