"I need a blackberry," said a 13 year old boy I teach. He said it with all the fervor of a child who could only think of shiny new bike for Christmas.
"For what? What pressing business could you possibly have?" I retorted.
"Man, because..." He started to count off reasons on his fingers. "I have a twitter, a facebook, AIM, pictures to take, texts to send, emails to write! That's why."
I rolled my eyes. To him it's a toy. A really expensive one that I can't even really afford myself. I got mine as a gift, and it has proved an invaluable tool for an artist and soon-to-be business woman on the go, especially in the wake of my three months without a functioning computer. I'm blogging on my blackberry right now. But this kid? He just wants to play.
When I was 13, I was transitioning from pager to cell phone. My dad's in the communications business and just like any other over protective father, he wanted to know where I was and be able to reach me at all times. It made sense. But honestly, at 13, all you need to be able to do is call home. I had a little star-tac flip phone. No way would I buy my kid a blackberry. No way.
I'm pretty much of the first generation of kids that grew up with technology integrated into our lives almost from birth. I was in second grade when we got our first home desktop computer and I got a 16-bit Sega Genesis for Christmas. Even then though, technology for play and for business were slightly separated. Now however, technology has come to be synonymous with toy.
The uses of technological hardware and software easily blur the lines of business and pleasure for adults. I check my facebook and twitter constantly just like everyone else. In the same inbox and timeline I see invitations to parties and drink specials mixed with articles on dance issues, invites and reviews to the latest performances.
Even this blog ranges in topics from personal relationships to my newest choreographic work. I've thought about separating personal from business, but at least in my case, I think there is a lot of overlap. Particularly as an artist, my personal life feeds my work life and vice versa. There's a lot of gray area so I write about it all under one url.
With so much blurring, it's no wonder kids think blackberries are toys. And because kids are well, kids, all they're gonna do is play with their friends. Why don't you go outside and play, and build a real relationship? Seriously. I can't imagine what kind of business most kids need to attend to that demands they have a smartphone, unless there are homework help apps and study group tweet ups that I just don't know about. I think my student's response to my question proves my point.
Still I've seen it... Kids 13 and under on their blackberries and iphones and all I can think is Your parents are buying you a $30.00 data plan so you can tweet to say "#liesitoldmyparents it's the teacher fault... Everybody failed that test ma!"