Friday, January 25, 2008
tech-mediation: parents and children
when i left the small island of Trinidad in 1996 for the slightly larger island of England/Scotland, email had only just hit the mainstream public Trinidad. but recognizing how much it would save me - both financially and emotionally - i made sure that my mother learned how to use it so that we could stay connected during my first steps away from home.
to her immense credit, she persisted through flaky 14.4 kbps dial-up connections often needing to rewrite entire pages of hard earned typing when the system would fail, but truly she was probably one of the 1st power users of email in her generation (not counting the email corporate crowd, of course). thus, technology and particularly communications technologies can be a powerful connector and mediator across generations, especially where there is another motivation to use the technology - holding on to important relationships when geography gets in the way. still for many parents the onslaught of mobile phones, Blackberries, webpages, iPods, iPhones, blogs, wikis, flickr, Skype cams, Second Life, etc. is a huge hurdle and sometimes an obstacle in the already complex dynamics of communicating with their pre-teens, teens and young adult children. further, as the aging baby-boomers arrive at retirement and leave easy access to these technologies at the workplace, connecting to grandchildren is even more problematic and confusing.
never before in history have so many communications media been available at the same time. and as we, of the tech-generation hurry to use and explore these with excitement, it is worth a pause to consider whether the armfuls of technologies that we settle on for this month or that help or maybe alienate those who still want to just feel near to us. and in that pause consider the tax we ask the previous generation to pay for loving us. just a pause. then wheel an' come again...