Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Chatting With the Kid

Here, in the 21st century, there is lots of stuff that I—as a middle-class American male in the industrialized West—do that would strike the space aliens observing me—or for that matter, my grandmother (who, for all I know, is what an alien is)—as quite strange: using a five blade-razor to shave my face, sitting in front of a glowing screen watching people sing and dance on it, eating food that comes frozen from a box, for instance.

But among the strangest of all would be the occasional sight of me online chatting with my daughter, using Yahoo messenger to send single lines of text to each other while she sits at a computer on the couch upstairs and I’m in my basement office typing away.

What would be the historical analogue to this? Shouting at each other across the peat bog? Shooting arrows over the river with notes attached to them? Having an upstairs and downstairs telegraph to contact each other in Morris code?

Odd as it is, it turns out to be a reasonably effective away for me to offer up parental suggestions like “it’s time to take your shower,” asks questions that she tends not to answer in person, like “is your homework done yet?

I’m sure this represents another capitulation on my part; no doubt doctors Phil or Laura would have something to say about what a disservice I’m doing to my child, but as far as I can see, no long-term damage is being done.

Conceptually, how is it any different, really, than dropping her a written note? And from a parental effectiveness standpoint, at least when I type to her, I know she hears me; I’ve got a written record to prove it.

Parenting for me has been an ongoing and consistent adventure in doing things I never thought I’d do; this is just another one of those, and at least I’m not text-messaging on a cell phone.


Blogger Saturn said...

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10:31 AM  

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