"Hey my dear boy, are you still in your room on the computer? I think we should go for a walk. It’s beautiful outside. Come on. ... Honey? Hellooooo, are you there? This is Mom. I’m here in front of you. Can you hear me? Son? Are you OK? LET’S GO FOR A WALK ... "
"Geez, Mom, for Pete’s sake, I can hear you. Get off my desk, will ya?"
"I’m sorry, dear. I was just trying to get your attention."
"I’m here, Mom."
"Really? It’s hard to tell."
"I was just saying, I think we should go for a walk. It’s lovely outside. Let’s take the dog and go."
"What? Are you kidding? A walk? No way. Besides, we’re busy."
"Me and my friends, Mom."
"That’s my friends and I, dear."
"Right Mom, I’m online and we’re I-Ming."
"Is I-Ming a word, dear?"
"Instant messaging? Pleeze Mom, stop, I’m busy."
"Come on, dear. A walk would be great. The fresh air. The time outside. Honey? Listen, don’t make me evoke the Mom Privilege."
"The Mom Privilege—my privilege as your mom to enjoy the company of you, my son. After all, you did stay en utero two extra weeks—just long enough to grow large enough to rip me apart. You know Mom almost died from hemorrhaging when you were born. So, I figure … "
"Mom, did you say something?"
"Turn the computer off, RIGHT NOW young man—we’re going for a walk."
"OK. OK. Let me quit out of this game. Just a second. I’m coming. Hey, Mom, wait for me."
"Close the door, honey. Isn’t it beautiful, dear? Don’t you just love being outside? Take a deep breath. You won’t be angry anymore."
"I’m not angry, Mom. I just don’t know why you always feel that being in front of the screen is totally bad for me. I know you love me and ... hey, wait a minute ... Mom, did you just read a new study or something?"
"As a matter of fact, I was just reading the paper. And yes, there was a story about a study, which found students who had computers were on the whole less literate, more unable to communicate, had a smaller attention span and were just, well, dumber."
"Well, Mom, I was just reading on the Internet that the sample size on that study was suspect. Another study of U.S. preschoolers found those who used a computer were more likely to score higher on tests. Really, Mom, I don’t think I spend too much time in front of the computer. I play soccer. I play baseball. I enjoy the computer on my downtime. If my friends were available, I’d be with them. Are you even listening to me, Mom?"
"Of course I am, dear, I was just reading that sign."
"So, what were you saying about small attention spans Mom?"
"Honey, I just want you to learn to relate to people face-to-face. I want you to feel this is your community and you are connected ... Oh, hello, good afternoon."
"Mom, that person just walked right past you without saying a word. Is he part of your community?"
"Don’t be snide, dear. I’m sure he just had a lot on his mind and didn’t hear me. Really, son, too much screen time is just not good. When I was growing up, there were no computers. We didn’t waste our time in front of a screen."
"Then how is it you know every episode of the old Dick Van Dyke shows? Isn’t a TV a screen, Mom? And why do you know word-for-word the Chuckles the Clown episode of the Mary Tyler Moore show? You used to quote it to us when we were little ... ‘A little song, a little dance ...’ "
" ‘A little seltzer down your pants.’ OK, all right, point taken, Son."
"Mom, I’m not going to climb up a clock tower with an Uzi, if that’s what you’re thinking."
"I didn’t say that. You know I want ... Hello, how are you today?"
"You’re 0-for-2 Mom. Feeling connected now?"
"The only thing that person could connect to is an iPod. God forbid anyone would actually look someone in the eye, let alone say a civil word to two human beings walking down the street in front of ... "
"Whoa, Mom. Calm down, this walk is making you very tense."
"I am not tense, Son. I’m fine."
"Your face is beet red. You know that could be a sign of menopause—a vasomotor flush, Mom. It’s just something I read about on the Internet."
"I’M JUST FINE, SON. Thank you very much."
"Really, Mom, let’s sit down under this tree. I think it’s a Skinner’s cut-leaved silver maple."
"Let me guess, the Internet?"
"Yes, Mom—the April tree of the month on the Morton Arboretum’s Web site—maybe when we get home you could take a walk with me through my computer?"
This article appeared in the
edition of Archives.
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