A paean for technology-free(?) childhood

My kids are growing up too fast in technology, and it scares me.

Matt Asay

Technology keeps making its way into younger demographics, a trend that is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. I caught my 3-year-old trying to send "text messages, Daddy" the other day.

I guess I should teach her the difference between cordless and wireless.

To be globally competitive, the United States does need to inculcate high-tech training earlier in life for would-be developers, and companies like Red Hat have targeted youth as young as high-school age with training programs.

But I don't want my kids immersed in technology too much, too soon. I was a literature major, and still prefer reading Dostoevsky to Ars Technica, much as I enjoy the latter. Technology can assist in learning, of course, including with literature, but I also feel that something is lost when our experience is intermediated by technology, because the rhythm of technology moves much faster than old-world academics and maturation.

Nick Carr wrote about this in his insightful "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" article in The Atlantic, and took a barrage of criticism for it. But there's some truth to the notion that the Internet's immediacy makes us impatient with books or anything that doesn't deliver information in soundbites and searches.

I make my living from software, so I'm not advocating that we dump it anytime soon. Rather, I'm just hoping (and parenting toward that hope) that my kids will grow up playing soccer rather than manipulating FIFA09 on their Wii; that they'll read Tolkien, Austen, and Dahl rather than Nick.com; and that they'll text less and write more prose. We still need people who can do those things.

Tags:
Tech Culture
About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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