MY SON, FUTURE AMERICAN HACKER
Recently, the four-year-old asked to play on my iPad. There are some games on there just for him and sometimes he just likes to open Pages or something and type seemingly random strings of letters and numbers. It’s sort of like how I write this blog.
Everything is secured on the iPad so he can’t go where he shouldn’t or blow his college fund purchasing the “women in Viking helmets shooting things” game apps that inexplicably appear in ads for otherwise g-rated games. I said, “Sure. Go ahead.”
He picked up the iPad and announced proudly, “I know Daddy’s number”, then proceeded to type in my iPad passcode. My wife and I just looked at each other bewildered. The little turkey that I have to ask ten times to find his shoes before he actually concentrates enough to know what I said, had, over time, slyly spied on me entering my passcode and memorized it.
You can’t really punish him, can you? Seriously, can you? I’m totally okay with letting him eat nothing but fresh-baked bread and perfectly chilled water and limiting him to only nine hours of cartoons a day. Never let it be said I’m not a strict parent.
The thing is, he’s not trying to get away with anything. He doesn’t even know what a passcode is. There’s no thievery intended. The immediate reaction, though, was to go in and change the code. Problem with that is, the iPad is set up so that if you type in the code incorrectly ten times, it wipes out more or less everything on the iPad as sort of a scorched-Earth security system. I could envision a nightmare scenario where I’m busy doing something and the boy grabs the pad and starts trying to enter what he thinks is still my code. It doesn’t work so he keeps trying. And trying. And trying. Then suddenly, my life is reduced to factory pre-sets. Wonder if that means I’d look younger…
So the code remains what it was. The boy entering my passcode has just become another part of the ritual of pre-school iPad time. Someday, when he’s older and, let’s face it, more interested in screwing with Dad, I’ll have to clamp down on the security. But for now, my boy has (largely) unfettered access to that portal to the Information Super-Highway. (They still call the Internet that, right? Groovy.)
I want my kids to be up on technology. People like to go on and on about how remarkable it is that “kids today” pick up on technology so much faster than we did. That’s largely bullshit. We didn’t have the Internet and iPads and blu-ray DVD players and video game consoles you need advanced degrees and a hell of a lot more patience than I have to master. But we had other stuff (Rocks. Sticks. The rotted carcasses of various marsupials) Whatever technology was around when you were a kid, you mastered it because it was your world. And you did it so fast, that YOUR parents marveled at it, just like I marveled at the boy. I guarantee it. Every generation does it. I did it. My kids do it now. Their kids will do it to. So will I, probably, as that technology could include a way to preserve my talking head in a jar, “Futurama” style. I’ll have a front-row seat to my grandkids taking over the world, just as predicted – every single year since the first generation of humans that didn’t get squished by dinosaurs. (That sound you hear is the world’s scientists’ brains exploding.)
BUT, if I handed my kids my old Atari 2600 (yes, I still have it), I bet they wouldn’t have a clue. Score one for the Old School.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to wrestle the iPad away from the boy. He’s Face Timing Putin.