Category Archives: Technology

Leap Frog Lyrics…or Musical Torture

When it’s quiet around here, it’s never really silent.  My son’s favorite television shows are replete with songs, and since I’ve heard them all approximately 7,497 times, I’ve got them memorized and burned into my brain.

Naturally, being the model mom that I am, I am well aware that screens are bad.  Children under two years of age should not have any screen time at all.  I totally agree with that recommendation–in theory. I hate what technology is doing to our ability to interact with each other.  I hate looking around everywhere I go and seeing people’s faces buried in their smartphones and tablets, ignoring one another.  I hate that it seems more of my conversations are centered around things I read on social media or see on a TV and movies than on actual, real-life experiences.

All this being said, I am human and I do own a TV, I-Pad, and laptop, and yes, my 22-month-old son knows how to use all of them.  He can do things with them that leave my husband and I befuddled, wondering how on earth to change the settings back to what they were.  Let’s just admit that it can be really hard to keep kids from screens.  It doesn’t help that we adults are so attached to our devices.  Heck, I’m typing this very sentence as my toddler watches George the monkey teach his friend Bill how to dance .  Might as well multi-task a little, right?

Now that I’m on maternity leave, I get to be a stay-at-home mom for several months, which is awesome.  I love having so much time off to bond with my new baby as well as my older child.   However, it’s really hard to leave the television off ALL day.  Especially when it’s the end of March and snowing.  Of course I would prefer my toddler to spend all his time playing interactively, reading books, learning new skills.  But he does watch TV.  He sometimes gets a couple of hours straight, in fact.  My justification for that is that I have a newborn to care for as well, so I obviously can’t devote every single minute to my older son.  Plus, many of the more “educational” activities, he simply can’t do on his own.  So there are times when I let Curious George and Mickey Mouse entertain my kid.  Judge if you want.  I do my best.

Every parent knows that what really sucks about kids’ shows is that kids will watch the same thing over and over and over.  They don’t mind seeing the same episode of Wild Kratts 12 days in a row.  And it sounds like every little girl has watched Frozen eleven jillion times (“Let It Go” is one of the reasons I’m so thankful to have boys!).  And parents, you know that the worst part about watching the same kids’ show repeatedly is the songs. Even ones that are not that bad are still horrible when you hear them playing in your dreams and in your waking hours too.  It didn’t take long for LeapFrog’s Numberland and Phonics Farm songs to become permanently lodged in my mind.  I could recite and sing every line from those shows, because I’ve heard them so. Many. Times.  “Letter sound hoedown…” “Ten is the biggest number from one to ten…” “You can count things faster if you go by twos…”  Riveting lyrics, I tell ya.

At least if it’s an educational show, I don’t feel so guilty about parking my kid in front of a screen for awhile.  He’s become so much better at the numbers and alphabet in the past few weeks.  I just wish I could get some other music to take hold in my mind.  It’s like my brain has only sufficient room for inane children’s music and has pushed out every other band and soundtrack I’ve ever heard.  My husband let the Mickey short videos keep playing even after our son had fallen asleep yesterday, and I thought I was going to lose it.  Somehow he was able to tune it out.  Not so for me. I thought teaching the same class three times was bad enough–repeating the same instructions, the same activities, the same songs ad nauseum.  Nope, this is way worse–I get to watch the same shows ten, twenty, fifty-plus times.

“Everything is so glorious, everything is so wondrous..when you’re curious, like curious George.” These lines just keep repeating.  I even woke up this morning with a song Curious George’s friend Marco sings with his family band in my head :”Hurray for George!”  Why am I writing about this?  To try and somehow cement these songs even more firmly in my brain?  Why, oh why?


The End of Human Decency

As I have been reading a lot of blogs lately, I have noticed an unfortunate trend: the use of both blogs and their comments sections as a forum for disrespect.  I understand that if you’re writing a blog, you must have something to say and you have to expect both praise and criticism.  Nevertheless, I don’t think the comments section should be an excuse to insult other people.  The same problem occurs on youtube.  It drives me crazy.  I just want to ask why people can’t find anything better to do with their time than comment on their hatred for songs.  (Don’t bother listening to it if you don’t like it!). It’s one thing to share opinions that are different from those in a blog post, but it is quite another to hurl deprecating remarks.

One example: one blog about writing offered some advice for writers, and the first comment I saw was someone saying, “I was going to take you seriously until I saw that your book was nonfiction. That’s not writing, dude.”  First of all, excuse me?  Since when is nonfiction writing “not writing”?  Even if you set aside the ridiculousness of that statement, why do you need to be a jerk?  If you didn’t find his advice useful, then stop reading, or accept that not every single piece of text you come across is going to be applicable for you.  Don’t waste your time or the author’s time in bashing what he does.

Other comments I’ve found while perusing various posts are similarly rude.  I just don’t get it.  I guess it’s because of the same reasons I don’t get kids bullying other kids, or CEOs ripping off their employees.  If you have nothing nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.  Unless your comments are actually constructive for the writer, then keep them to yourself.  (Okay, one other exception: when the writer has been deliberately offensive, it might be fine to lash back.  Like maybe to the woman who “looks down on young wives and mothers and isn’t sorry”.)

My husband reads a lot of product reviews before buying anything, and he often remarks on this as well.  People tend to jump all over each other online.  They have a much shorter fuse and an apparent lack of basic decorum.  They start off with relevant reviews of cell phone carriers or car parts or restaurants, but quickly deteriorate into name-calling and petty arguments.  My friend who moderates the website for a law review magazine can attest to this online rudeness epidemic, too.

Why do we become so ruthless when we’re online?  I mean, obviously, there is that sense of distance created between us and the people to whom we communicate online.  But how is it that we lose or ignore our moral compass just because we don’t expect to deal with others face to face?

I think that, deep down, most of us just like hearing ourselves talk.  Even I do–and I’m a very shy and introverted person.  Perhaps this is true of many of us who enjoy writing.  It gives us the chance to speak out when we normally would remain mute.  We become bolder through our written words, particularly when we can publish them online with just a tap of one button.

It just feels like we’re becoming meaner and meaner to one another.  It’s pretty disheartening.