I Worry About Future Generations A Lot


I am 20 years old. I have never had a girlfriend, let alone a wife. Yet despite this, I am extremely worried about the future and my non-existent child's future as well. As someone who is deeply interested in technology, I have the privilege of knowing how scary it can be. Additionally, I believe I have a unique perspective due to the timing of my birth.

Back in My Day...

I was born in the early 2000s. Phones, cameras, TVs, game consoles, and audio players were all fairly separated. As a result, everyone had to learn to interface all these devices and it allowed us to be more knowledgeable on the subject. Additionally, they lacked in power, so there were a lot of limitations. Phones could take pictures and play games, but the photos were of terrible quality and games were very simple.

Enter the 2010s

A shift in the way we use technology occurred in the early 2010s with the advent of the smartphone, and subsequently, tablets. No longer do you absolutely need all these other devices, as smartphones got good enough to make a lot of them obsolete for the average person. iPads were the perfect gift for a child; no longer do you need to get them any other entertainment device as the iPad has them all. So, naturally, parents across North America started getting iPads in their kid's hands, mine included. I have fond memories of learning to make music with Garageband and editing videos with iMovie. Even as a kid, I definitely was using my iPad to its potential. Mind you, these devices are supercomputers compared to computers from a decade prior, and kids everywhere have that power, literally at the tip of their fingers.

Here in Lies the Problem

"iPad Kid" is a term for kids who grew up with an iPad addiction. iPad kids are really no different than any teenager or adult with an internet addiction, however, there are two distinctions from internet addicts and iPad kids. Firstly, internet addiction can lead to computer skills, as it did for me. I am good at using computers because I spend so much time on my computer, but there are really no skills to be learned with iPads due to their ease-of-use operating system. You don't need to know anything about the hardware about your iPad to get anything running on it, whereas the average Linux user is very in tune with their hardware for example. The second reason why internet addicts differ from iPad kids is the content they consume. In both cases, they can be exposed to disturbing and unsightly content, but what that content is and where they see it differ. "But that can't be the case, iPad kids only have YouTube, Roblox, and [insert social media if they have any]! It is not possible because of all the parental filters!". Silly person in my head, don't you know that not all content can be moderated. Hundreds of thousands of videos are uploaded to YouTube every day, there is no way a human or even any automated moderation can catch all the bad actors. As a result, videos not safe for kids (or really anyone for that matter) have infiltrated YouTube Kids. The same can apply to Roblox, where once again, not all items/maps/users can be moderated by a human and bad actors take advantage of that.

Really think about that. We don't know what kids are consuming these days. The sheer number of things that they are consuming in a day and the questionable quality is a recipe for disaster. If you think about it, the same can be said about everyone else too. We seem to just filter out all the garbage on social media, but I feel like we take our brains for granted that we're capable of not being impressed by low-quality social media posts. If you've gotten this far in this post, then you're part of a small percentage of people who probably don't have an unhealthy relationship with social media anymore (if not, ever), but its an epidemic amongst our peers.

My problem doesn't just lie in the fact that kids are consuming questionably bad content, but also the fact that their imagination and creativity is at risk as well. Remember Idiot Box, that one episode of Spongebob about imagination? If you don't, the basic idea is that while Squidward had access to a brand new TV and all the things in the world, he was curious and jealous of Spongebob and Patrick's ability to keep themselves entertained using their imagination while inside a cardboard box. Of course, we want our kids to be like Spongebob and Patrick, but when theres a nice shiny rectangle that can display anything you want, who cares about a measly cardboard box? Remember that unlike TVs, iPads are supercomputers and have so many capabilities, and yet the vast majority of people using iPads (and smartphones and laptops) are just using them to watch slop. I worry that kids will have a hard time being alone with their thoughts or just imagining things if they are too reliant on their iPads.

A Spitting Image

So, who's to blame? The social media and mobile game companies for exploiting children? Apple for making supercomputers that are gimped by software? We can blame these large entities all we want, but this won't change anything nearly as much as what parents can do. You can't just get rid of the iPad, that is not possible in this day and age unfortunately. If you are a zoomer, imagine if your parents didn't buy you a DS/PSP/Game Boy or Wii/Playstation/Xbox. You would probably feel quite left out of social activities happening with other kids. The reality is that iPads have lots of capabilities for good, but unfortunately there is also a lot of bad stuff that a kid can be exposed to with an iPad.

A lot of children's habits come from what they observe in the household. So if a child sees their parent on their phone all day, then it makes it seem ok that they are on their iPad all day. If the parent is solely a provider of basic needs to the child and doesn't interact with their child in any other meaningful way, then who would the child trust more when they have problems? Will they consult their parent who they don't know at all or the iPad? I understand that parenting is hard. Being an adult is hard enough, I can't even fathom what happens when you bring another human that you're fully responsible for into the equation. It makes sense why a parent would just buy their kid an iPad to shut them up while they cook or whatever else they have to do. Due to the lack of limitations of iPads, kids will not learn what "no" means. So when they hear that word, they don't know how to react appropriately. A lack of discipline makes it a lot harder for kids to learn and be motivated to do hard/challenging work in the future.

When we Become Parents

I hope this current generation of kids and parents serves as a warning for future parents on how not to raise a child. I personally don't think that this next generation will be very great, but I have faith in my fellow zoomers that we will have better children. Since we were really the last generation to have (part of) a childhood without smartphones, it is up to us to teach our kids of the time before that; to show them how to live properly, without a social media addiction, with a bright imagination. I hope the kids growing up with my kids are creative. A good generation starts with a good generation of parenting. If we want our kids to have good habits, then we need to have good habits and get rid of our bad habits.