Back in my day, when pizza and hot dogs were separate things, we didn’t even have smartphones. This is what I imagine I will be telling my teenage daughter in about 15 years from now.

No Mum… I've told you a million times, it's Ctrl C Ctrl V… Photo: Thinkstock

Also “go to bed, it’s after 4pm” and “no, you can’t borrow my hoverboard, it’s way too powerful”.

My daughter is only 14 months old and is already fascinated with my iPhone. I honestly believe there is something about the Apple logo that subliminally attracts children from a very young age. Think about it: Why is the logo placed so conveniently at the back of the phone?

Steve Jobs knew that parents would take photos of their kids obsessively. Every time we tell them to look at the camera and smile we are in fact setting in motion a type of hypnosis, making them stare into the shiny metal apple while invisible voices tell them to always buy Apple products and watch Pixar films.

(Having said that, grown ups don’t even need the apple. They are already all like: “Oh I love Pixar. Steve Jobs was a great man. I want an iPad.”)

Or maybe I just feel guilty about the phone thing and I’m looking for someone to blame. I worry that I am setting a bad example for my daughter by spending too much time on my phone and that maybe I’m missing some of her important milestones. For example, I looked up from Twitter the other day and discovered she had a sister.

And kids learn so quickly. My 14-month-old has already managed to get Siri to not understand her and beaten my highest score in Angry Birds. I found her the other day crouched behind the sofa, clutching my iPhone like some sort of mini gadget genius, swiping, scrolling and programming with all the dexterity and experience of a two-year-old.

Luckily I caught her just before she transferred my entire savings into a Swiss bank account under the name Mendax 2.0.

It scared me. Not the fact that my phone just got stolen by a one-year-old or that Facebook now said I liked Nicki Minaj. It was that I could see my impending irrelevance. Seeing my daughter navigate around a smartphone like that made me realise how quickly things are moving.

At the time I started writing this sentence I was about 10 years behind the ever-developing world of technology. Now I’m 11 years. In fact I only found out recently that VHS tapes have little tabs on the sides to determine whether they’ve been taped over or not.

I’m worried that I will not be able to keep up with all the cool new buttons and flashing lights and as a result look a bit stupid, like when my mother-in-law told my wife that she just faxed her all the details, except that we don’t have a fax and neither does she.

I know how irrelevance works. It’s a slippery slope. It starts with technology and then works its way into pop culture until it takes the form of boiled lollies and regional newspapers.

I realise it is all part of the circle of life, hakuna matata, YOLO etc. But I am not willing to give up on technology just yet. I know that one day I will need help turning on whatever is the VHS player of the future. But for now I will try to stay ahead of the race.

My parents’ generation dealt with new technology well: Fear.

Don’t sit too close to the TV or your eyes will go square. Don’t sit too far from the TV or you’ll have to squint forever. Don’t mix the blank tapes with the used ones: How will we ever know which are which?

So, rather than trying to keep up with technology, maybe I just need to introduce a campaign of fear. Little sound bites that when told in a stern, convincing voice sound like real facts.

That way when new technologies are invented my daughter(s) will learn not to trust them and I won’t feel as irrelevant.

But I still get to ride my hoverboard to and from work.

Comments on this post will close at 8pm AEDT.

Most commented


Show oldest | newest first

    • Davo says:

      11:54am | 15/01/13

      now i am officially scared. i thought it was just me.

      when i was picking up #1 child from kindergarten recently, i noticed that while the parents stood around chatting the kids and younger siblings were almost all engrossed with playing games on iphones/babysitter. some of the little experts were no older than 2 years old and navigated like pros.

      i feel that i suddenly became old and i should feel bad.

    • John says:

      12:26pm | 15/01/13

      Relax, Davo. Anyone under about 20 is effectively a digital native. The technology was here before them so using it is perfectly natural; as natural as using the technology of say, a bicycle, was for us.

    • hr says:

      02:08pm | 15/01/13

      yep, and my one year old gets very upset that the screen on my laptop doesnt react to his fingers.

      Whats a mouse????

    • acotrel says:

      04:43pm | 15/01/13

      A minute ago I was using a computer w ith 8K of memory, and writing programmes in machine code - Wha happen ??

    • Tubesteak says:

      11:57am | 15/01/13

      Removing those tabs prevented someone else from taping over the tape. Although, for memory, it didn’t tell someone that it was not recording.

      My first computer was an Apple IIGS. Snake was fun.

      The only people that ride hoverboards are people too poor to buy a hover car. Get with the times, man.

    • VVS says:

      01:21pm | 15/01/13

      Piece of sticky tape over where the tab used to be if you wanted to tape over it again…

    • J, Assange says:

      11:59am | 15/01/13

      Mendax. Nice one.

    • Pro says:

      12:02pm | 15/01/13

      So true. My daughter is an expert with the iphone. shes 3. Technology is changing so rapidly, that i don’t bother buying the latest. Good article!

    • St. Michael says:

      12:08pm | 15/01/13

      Bah, until they give me my jetpack I refuse to admit we’ve reached The Future (tm).

    • Question says:

      12:15pm | 15/01/13

      Your first mistake was buying Apple products. Apple makes neither good hardware nor a good OS, and it physically hurts me to walk past an Apple store and see the sheep clamouring for the latest in Job’s inferior technology. Please, do your children a favour, bin the iPhones and iPads and buy a system that isnt complete crap.

    • HC says:

      01:33pm | 15/01/13

      Personal choice is a funny thing, you hate Apple like a good little Apple hating sheep, millions of others like Apple like good little Apple loving sheep.

      Regardless of our so-called choices in life it doesn’t change the fact that we’re all still sheep in the end.  Better start practicing…

      Baaaaa tongue laugh

    • BrianB says:

      03:21pm | 15/01/13

      Gee Question, That was a good in-depth analysis of Apple technology.

      You sound like the kind of expert that knows how to turn a device on and off and not much else.

      Please elaborate on your statement - ” Apple makes neither good hardware nor a good OS” . I’d be interested to hear your reasons.

    • Mattb says:

      04:47pm | 15/01/13

      ever heard of a little phase called “each to their own”.

      Seriously, some people need to get a life if walking past an Apple shop ‘hurts’ them..

    • Colin says:

      12:23pm | 15/01/13

      Children learn how to use technology more quickly these days because the technology is becoming simpler to use - in line with the fact that, en masse, the population is becoming simpler…

      I predict that soon even the most uneducated ne’er-do-wells will be able to immerse themselves in dreadful repetitive electronic music via world-shunning headphones, whilst sending and receiving inane messages about banal subjects as they shove fast food into their ever-slackening maws…oh…hang on…

    • Tom says:

      01:24pm | 15/01/13

      You’re confusing technology with gadgets, Colin. Was it really any more difficult for you to listen to pop music on the radio while scrawling notes and shoving sandwiches into your ever-slackening maw ?

    • Colin says:

      02:36pm | 15/01/13

      @ Tom

      Whoa, snappy comeback, Tom. Gen X or Y, are you by any chance..?

      And as for “...confusing technology with gadgets…”; no, gadgets are a PRODUCT of technology. And, as the technology becomes more and more seamless (I refer you t Arthur C Clarke’s “Indistinguishable from magic” quote), the gadgets become more and more “Intuitive” (Read: More and more capable of being operated by the barely competent)

      Incidentally, I read books whilst listening to classical music. No food was involved.

    • Tom says:

      03:23pm | 15/01/13

      That’s right. Technology and gadgets are two different things, but you’re still confusing them. Humans have used technology since prehistoric times. How barely competent do you need to be to operate a radio and a book?

    • Anubis says:

      03:38pm | 15/01/13

      It seems to have worked for you Colin. You multifunction well - spraying your particular variation of bile while still being able to type

    • Elphaba says:

      03:40pm | 15/01/13

      @Colin, I love how you think society is more stupid today than it was back in yesteryear.

      I think the only difference is that the internet has shortened the connection between you and the people you deem inferior to you.  If I were you, I’d start wishing for that technology to speed up and take you off this planet altogether, since you can’t bring yourself to socialise like a normal person amongst the proles.

      Nest you’ll be telling us you only read historical biographies, because no self-respecting person would read fiction, blah blah blah *zzzzzzz*

    • Colin says:

      04:28pm | 15/01/13

      @ Tom
      @ Anubis
      @ Elphaba

      Goodness. Tall Poppy Syndrome, anyone..?

    • Tom says:

      05:29pm | 15/01/13

      If listening to the radio and reading a book makes someone a tall poppy, then we’re all tall poppies.

    • Elphaba says:

      05:37pm | 15/01/13

      @Colin, given the fact that you don’t know where I work, my level of education, and what I do in my spare time, I’m not sure why you think I could be suffering from Tall Poppy Syndrome.

      You know what they say about assumptions.  You spend every spare moment you have on here exalting your achievements and personality quirks, while deriding others.  If there’s anyone who cares what other people think of them, it’s you.

      But you know, whatever fuels your pretentious wanker fire.

    • Tim the Toolman says:

      12:54pm | 15/01/13

      Or, perhaps, maintain basic technical literacy.  It’s not really moving that quickly.

    • jec says:

      01:14pm | 15/01/13

      How does the child get the iPhone or iPad (or whatever it is)?  From the parent or adult.  The solution is to JUST SAY NO!  It’s easy.  Don’t give the device to your 14 month old - or whatever age you don’t want them using it - sheesh, it’s not hard!

    • Bear says:

      01:42pm | 15/01/13

      Yea that pizza with the hot dog crust is surely aimed at ppl with no food sense, ie kids. About as appealing as a krusty burger.

    • TimB says:

      01:43pm | 15/01/13

      I think it’s your first line that disturbs me most of all:

      ‘Back in my day, when pizza and hot dogs were separate things…’

      Who on earth decided that what pizza really needed was entire frankfurts stuffed into the crust? I’ve been known to eat some crazy stuff in my time (Zinger Double FTW), but even I have to draw the line somewhere.

    • Mark says:

      02:36pm | 15/01/13

      Where can I get one? Sounds pretty good to me.

    • TimB says:

      03:08pm | 15/01/13

      Pizza Hut or Dominoes or something. I can’t remember which. All I know is they had an ad on TV.

    • James1 says:

      03:30pm | 15/01/13

      Nuts and gum, together at last.

    • Bear says:

      04:14pm | 15/01/13

      It looks really fake and awful in the picture. I bet it has no topping to compensate too! How about just putting on decent topping and to the edge!? In any case, making your own is better than all of the above.

    • Nuts an gum - ha ha says:

      04:20pm | 15/01/13

      “I’m a white male aged 18-41, everyone listens to me no matter how stupid my ideas are’. One of them came up with the ‘dog’ crust.

    • Mark says:

      04:21pm | 15/01/13

      What’s a TV?

    • Gregg says:

      01:52pm | 15/01/13

      ” So, rather than trying to keep up with technology, maybe I just need to introduce a campaign of fear. “
      How about you just choose to ignore all the latest and greatest including chucking the tweeting for sweetening the relationship with the kids that can include keeping them away from the addiction.

      You might then find that you and your entire family might just realise there is a lot more to living than tweeting on an SmartPhone.

    • HC says:

      02:56pm | 15/01/13

      Like what?  Listening to old farts whinging about how “in my day…” or those lame-ass pollies in Canberra trying to tear each other’s throats out over silly little things that are unimportant to the rest of the universe.  Pubs are too violent, beaches are crawling with all sorts of vermin, shopping centres suck, the bush is unreachable for most urbane and proper humans living in cities, art galleries are ruined by pretentious idiots, museums are ghost towns, parks are a sterile OH&S fuelled nightmare… I could do this all day.

      There are negative aspects to everything in life.  Instead of being such a negative prat why don’t you get a smartphone like a normal person and revel in the fact that have access to the entirety of human knowledge in your pocket but you only use it to spray inanities at a world that doesn’t care and stare at pictures of cats with badly spelled captions tongue laugh

    • Not that old says:

      01:55pm | 15/01/13

      I had to google “YOLO”....

    • Last Man Standing says:

      02:33pm | 15/01/13

      Your child knowing how to finger an Ipad is going to be of little use in much of the business sector. 
      As fast as things change now they will with your children.  Many programming languages are now dead in just the 10 year period.
      Even then mechanics of programming went the OOP path.
      I find while many children are competent users, outside the scope of Itunes, the minute something goes wrong they havent the capacity to fix it.
      The geek sector is still the same proportions in society. Computing to some degree is getting easier not harder.

    • Nostromo says:

      03:14pm | 15/01/13

      Just a couple quick points Seamus:

      1. Apple was & is irrelevant & the reason your 2 yr old operates your iCrap better than you is because that’s the lowest common denominator it was designed for (no offense to your daughter)
      2. circle of life <> hakuna matata, which is what it looks like you were implying with that run-on sentence

    • Bender says:

      04:16pm | 15/01/13

      Just a couple of quick points Nostromo:

      1. Read his byline aka Sydney comic
      2. Think about it and read his byline again
      3. Get your hand off it.

    • JTO says:

      04:12pm | 15/01/13

      When I was younger people predicted that there would be a computer in every house and other people told them they were idiots. Now there’s one in just about every pocket.

      My first computer (Apple IIe) was all command line, green text on a black background, no pics, no porn, no internet, no nothing. We loved it but others paid us out for being geeks and nerds. We always knew the day would come when kids would use computers as naturally as eating lunch. This IS The Future™. Now, in the immortal words of Anthony Morgan, “WHERE’S MY ROCKET PACK?”

    • YaThinkN says:

      04:14pm | 15/01/13

      I have found saying NO is awesome with kids.  Seriously, they do not need to be attached to the gadgets 24/7.  Some of my friends are shockers too.  Many are appalled when they come to dinner and I enforce the no phones on or anywhere near the table rule and beware my wrath if you get up from the table to answer your phone during dinner.  (Unless you are on call of course for work or your kids are being babysat).  Nothing annoys me more, and no wonder so many kids have poor face to face communication skills.

      Before anyone yells at me, I actually work in IT, so that means I actually understand that most of these gadgets are ‘tools’.  The iphones and the like are just toys, and who in their right mind is going to let a kid play with toys 24/7?

    • vox says:

      04:15pm | 15/01/13

      Damn! All of this crap came along just when I was getting to master the remote control for my T.V.
      Learn from us, chillun’. Whatever you teach your kids to use will be obsolete before they are old enough to get a job. That’s a promise.
      Or maybe just some spelling blocks. I hear they are being introduced into Unis all over the Country this year.

    • Robert S McCormick says:

      04:30pm | 15/01/13

      The whole thing is just a money-making racket for the likes of Apple, Samsung & telcos such as Optus, Vodaphone, Virgin, Telstra.
      They are laughing all the way to the bank.
      The biggest fools of all are the Parents.
      They are the one’s who buy these things for their over-indulged, spoilt brats.
      They are the ones who have to pay the exorbitant prices for both the equipment & for using them.
      I read recently of some incredibly stupid parent who admitted they had become so detached from & so bullied by their 10 & 11 year-old children that they were not allowed into their bedrooms & if they wanted to tell them the evening meal was on the table, or anything else for that matter those brats insisted their parents send them an SMS or e-mail to do so!!
      It’s a bloody good thing those nasty little brats weren’t part of our family where if anyone wants a mobile or some other bit of useless, expensive gear they have to be old enough to go out, get a job, save up & pay for it & then earn enough to pay to run the damned things. The Mums & Dads in our family won’t even go Guarantor for they well know where that leads.

    • John says:

      04:48pm | 15/01/13

      All jokes aside, perhaps the greatest change we’re seeing is that, as Clay Shirky noted almost 5 years ago in “Gin, Television and Social Surplus”, four year olds assume  that media includes consuming, producing and sharing.

      Mary Ann.

    • Ash Balfour says:

      04:49pm | 15/01/13

      Here here Joe.  And this is not limited to an individuals ability to adapt to and learn new technology.  It simply moves unnecessarily fast!  The proof is in the fact that you and I are the same age.  We grew up in the same era, before smartphones and touchscreens.  The most advanced technology our school had was those silly looking, boxy, green-screened computers with about as much memory as your average digital watch and yet we’ve managed to adapt to the vastly superior technology of today (which by tomorrow will be last weeks).  But although you and I have both proven we are not completely inept by making words magically appear on a screen, we are both feeling the sting of inevitability.

      Oh and I have absolutely no idea what this YOLO stuff is.

    • Ash Balfour says:

      04:51pm | 15/01/13

      I just totally addressed that to Joe Hildebrand.. I really should check who wrote a piece before I reply.  Perhaps I am inept after all!

      Sorry Seamus!
      It’s still relevant if you were born around 1975!


Facebook Recommendations

Read all about it

Punch live

Up to the minute Twitter chatter

Recent posts

The latest and greatest

The Punch is moving house

The Punch is moving house

Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…

Will Pope Francis have the vision to tackle this?

Will Pope Francis have the vision to tackle this?

I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…

Advocating risk management is not “victim blaming”

Advocating risk management is not “victim blaming”

In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…

Nosebleed Section

choice ringside rantings

From: Hasbro, go straight to gaol, do not pass go

Tim says:

They should update other things in the game too. Instead of a get out of jail free card, they should have a Dodgy Lawyer card that not only gets you out of jail straight away but also gives you a fat payout in compensation for daring to arrest you in the first place. Instead of getting a hotel when you… [read more]

From: A guide to summer festivals especially if you wouldn’t go

Kel says:

If you want a festival for older people or for families alike, get amongst the respectable punters at Bluesfest. A truly amazing festival experience to be had of ALL AGES. And all the young "festivalgoers" usually write themselves off on the first night, only to never hear from them again the rest of… [read more]

Gentle jabs to the ribs

Superman needs saving

Superman needs saving

Can somebody please save Superman? He seems to be going through a bit of a crisis. Eighteen months ago,… Read more



Read all about it

Sign up to the free newsletter