I spent my lunchtime packaging up my beloved PlayStation 5. I’m going to send it to my brother-in-law and his family until my son heads off to university. This directly impacts me and my extra-curricular activities, but I’m at my wits end.

He can’t control his use of it, sadly. Combined with his use of a smartphone, I feel like I’ve failed as a parent despite all of the things I’ve tried. I wrote my doctoral thesis on digital literacies, for goodness sake.

Ben Werdmuller’s at the other end of the spectrum with his son. I wish him the best of luck.

Kid under chair looking at screens
We walk our son to daycare via the local elementary school. This morning, as we wheeled his empty stroller back past the building, a school bus pulled up outside and a stream of eight-year-olds came tumbling out in front of us. As we stood there and watched them walk one by one into the building, I saw iPhone after iPhone after iPhone clutched in chubby little hands. Instagram; YouTube; texting.

It’s obvious that he’ll get into computers early: he’s the son of someone who learned to write code at the same time as writing English and a cognitive scientist who does research for a big FAANG company. Give him half a chance and he’ll already grab someone’s phone or laptop and find modes none of us knew existed — and he’s barely a year old. The only question is how he’ll get into computers.


He’s entering a very different cultural landscape where computers occupy a very different space. Those early 8-bit machines were, by necessity, all about creation: you often had to type in a BASIC script before you could use any software at all. In contrast, today’s devices are optimized to keep you consuming, and to capture your engagement at all costs. Those iPhones those kids were holding are designed to be addiction machines.

Source: Parenting in the age of the internet | Ben Werdmuller