I have warned and been warned plenty about how the weird wired world is remapping our brains, our minds, and our consciousness in ways we don’t yet understand and probably never will, consider how the target keeps moving, eluding our attempts to uncover its inner nature. So it came as no surprise to me at least that, as reported in The Telegraph, there are now toddlers so deep into their iPads they require therapy. The epidemic of screenheads and pixelbrains has tracked all the way down to 3- and 4-year-olds:
Psychiatrists estimate that the number of people who have become digitally dependent has risen by 30 per cent over the past three years.
A survey last week revealed that more than half of parents allowed their babies to play with their phone or tablet device.
One in seven of more than 1,000 parents questioned by babies.co.uk website admitted that they let them use the gadgets for four or more hours a day.
Um, what’s with the one-sentence paragraphs at The Telegraph? I also find it a little strange how the report describes the problem in terms of addiction. Lumping more and more things into that category (alcohol, drugs, smoking, and gambling being among the mainstays, but sex, porn, gaming, and now iPads?) does no one any credit but does transform the problem into something done to a person rather than something one does to him- or herself. This is certainly the case with toddlers, who really have no responsibility for what happens to them. Their agency is quite limited; parents and caregivers are the ones who set up the kids to need therapy by providing them inappropriate devices as toys/pacifiers. The iPad babysitter is not the equivalent of handing toddlers real guns with which to play, but logical effects do appear to manifest within a relatively short time frame. So parents are pulling a trigger with a delayed effect, not unlike poor diet and hygiene, which are child endangerment issues sufficient to remove the children from their parents’ care.
If a cult deprogramming style of intervention becomes necessary, which is lightly being called “digital detox,” toddlers may have to be weaned, but parents should be sat down in a circle to have overwhelming pressure applied until their characters break down and they can be taught some parenting skills. Indeed, this is an example why misanthropes suggest that procreation should be limited, not open to anyone with the right functional biological parts. That restriction will never come to pass, of course, but something ought to happen to adults who ruin their own children, unwittingly or not.
That, too, will never happen, in part because the postmodern world is in a long-term project to put everything behind glass: first the glass of the microscope and telescope, then the glass of the film projector and television, then the glass of the computer screen, smartphone, e-reader, tablet, and virtual reality headset. No small thing, then, that Google calls its eyeglass-mounted display the Google Glass. Corning had a disgusting promotional video some time back about glass countertops and appliance façades with computer displays behind them. I suspect such devices are mere baby steps until engineers figure out how to do holographic displays and bioengineers provide the data feed directly into the nervous system — the creepy Google Implant. Despite claims that these developments are about making the virtual world real, I insist it’s really about our retreat into fantasy, where the pixelated objects of our desire are antiseptic and pure, unlike, say, the messy, nauseating fecundity of biology, where plants and animals kill to eat, poop, and decay after death. It’s transhumanism carried beyond wishful thinking, and the toddlers in the linked news report above show that we won’t tolerate living without access to the feed (while it lasts), even if it proves harmful. (more…)