Click here for shortcuts to regional language blogs and city-specific events.
When I was growing up, the only pieces of technology (if you can all it that) we had around the house were a big black telephone and a radio.
The telephone, of course, was a coveted affair and when it rang, which was rare, since the lines were often down, every member of the family would sit up in the hope it was for him or her. More often than not, it was a wrong number.
The radio, on the other hand, was my father's domain. It hummed to him in his study as he worked in the morning, was carried into the loo while he shaved and changed and kept him company till he left the house. Sunday afternoons we would listen to the one and only English music show that came on for an hour.... an hour of filled with golden oldies sung by Cliff Richards, Roger Whittaker, The Carpenters and the like. At other times the radio would be enough to transport my father to the football field or the cricket match as he followed each pass and each ball lazing on his sofa.
The TV, in fact, came later. Much later. Doordarshan transmissions were only in the evenings and a rather silly children's program used to be followed by exciting programs about the life or a farmer or, worse, mournful singing and the news. Sometimes there were these boring regional movies.After such frantic activity that lasted all of 3 hours, the transmission was over. Needless to say, my father never allowed us to switch on the TV as it clashed with the time that we were supposed to be studying.
Mind you, these were the days when, if any person got a TV in the house, all the neighbours and family members would gather around to watch. Not so in our house. I used to be envious of the houses where they had a TV and it was actually switched on.. unlike ours!
The PC, came into my home after I was married. That was in the late 90s and we felt adventurous enough, For the first six months or so, it was used only as a device to play jezzball. The wireless, the internet all that came much later.
Ah, but times have changed, have they not?
My daughters, born in 1999 and 2000 have not just grown into technology, they've been born with it. They knew which button to press to speed-dial me from the cordless before they could walk properly. They literally drooled over my very first Nokia (you know, that big fat one, much like a brick?) and were playing Nintendo games with their cousins 'from abroad' before they were 4! As they grew older, they also knew every TV show, every game show and whatever-it-is-they-watch that you can imagine! They never had to pull down a big fat encyclopaedia or make a trip to the library to find out about something they did not know but had 'google' at their finger-tips.
It was just a matter of time till we got them their own PC. And a little more till they had their own Tab and i-pod.
Now let me tell you that the spouse and I were really opposed giving the girls the gadgets. We, like a good many other people out there, we were determined that all this technology basically made the child lazy, unimaginative and curbed their natural ability to think. (In fact not until the older child was 15 was she given a cell-phone. The younger one still awaits her turn.)
So why did we give in? Did we think it would help them with their studies? Did we think it would keep them occupied? Make them better individuals?
None of the above actually. Truth is, I was tired. Tired of having to fight one or the other over the i-pad when we went on vacation. Tired of having one child or the other pull at one earphone because she wanted to hear what I was listening to on the i-pod. Tired of having the children hang over my shoulder and play my moves for me in Freecell. I was tired of going on a long drive and have the two fight incessantly because they had nothing to do. Most of all I was tired of listening to myself rant and rave and rage against them because their childhood was so much different than ours.
A chance meeting with a doctor who is a friend tipped the scales in their favour. The girls' vacations were on and I was muttering about how the girls watch TV all day, every day. "These gadgets are good," he told me. "They help hand-eye co-ordination. We got it from playing with a ball, since they will not go out and play, it's better they play mind stimulating games rather than watch TV all day!"
That was that.
And that's how it is.
I may rant and rave that they constantly have their faces glued to a screen but I also have to admit that they are far more technology savvy than I am. When I needed help with a PPT or some other thing, they are the ones that came to the rescue. They are well informed not only on topics that interest them, like the latest color of Miley Cyrus's hair, but also are able to talk intelligently about ethnic cleansing as a crime under International law. Earlier they used to blindly copy and paste from Wikipedia, today they go beyond the first page of results that a Google-search throws up.
Yes, yes, they also are on Snapchat and Instagram and the i-pad is inundated with a never-ending supply of selfies. I sigh, sometimes I have to smile at their chats which I randomly see from time to time (they are not allowed to change their passwords without letting me know) , I delete those selfies..... these are all those evils that follow. One cannot live with one and not the other. I also try to restrict their time with the apps but it's a never-ending battle. There's always one more project to study for, one more email to read, one more picture to download!
You know, all this debate on technology reminds me of a couplet by Rabindranath Tagore, I may be off a bit, but here's how it goes:
"Daar ruddha kore bole bhram ta re ruki,
Shotto bole ami tobe kotha diye dhuki?"
That's Bengali. Loosely translated, it means:
"You shut your doors to keep out all evil,
Truth asks, 'where then, shall I enter?'"
I rest my case.
P.S. ‘This article is an entry to the contest ‘Technology and my young Genius’ by Micromax Canvas Tabby. Click here to find out more about the Tabby www.thetabby.in’