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Ipads_webThis year, the Oxford Juni­or Dic­tion­ary, aimed at sev­en-year-olds, decided to ditch some words. They had too many pages appar­ently, so they got chop­ping; chest­nuts, mag­pies, leo­pards and larks are out. Blog­ging, chat rooms and cut-and-paste are in. Net over nature, Out­look over the out­doors. A move to mod­ern­ise, they said, a pro­foundly sad move that depressed lan­guage-lov­ers like me to the very core. Now, more than ever, I want to self-implode every time I see a child with an iPad.

Chil­dren with iPads is a phe­nomen­on that, like aer­o­sol cheese, Crocs and Tony Abbott, wouldn’t exist if humans were doing things right. Hav­ing wit­nessed the zom­bi­fy­ing effects of con­stant access to arti­fi­cial enter­tain­ment on chil­dren as young as two, little slaves to the little sil­ver square, I made a prom­ise to myself nev­er to plague my future spawn with that sort of han­di­cap. In argu­ments, where friends would cam­paign for the ‘edu­ca­tion­al bene­fits’ of the ima­gin­a­tion-sap­ping dev­il square, I would find myself inwardly scream­ing “BLOODY MAGPIES ARE EDUCATIONAL!” It was infuriating.

Then I moved into a house with a dog. This is not just any dog, this is ‘the cutest dog ever’, and while I know that every­body says that about their dog, every­body else is wrong. This dog, which will be referred to as Dog, is the best. I don’t quite mean that in a lit­er­al sense — in fact. Dog is prob­ably quite far from the best. Dog likes jump­ing on couches and tear­ing up pil­lows and stick­ing her nose in your food. Dog likes to wait until your TV show is on to jump on your face and demand atten­tion. Dog gets so excited about walks on the beach that she poops and vomits all the way home.

And yet it’s a good thing that Dog can’t talk because if she asked for both of my kid­neys I would give them to her, apo­lo­gise for the delay and pay the med­ic­al bills in advance. If Dog asked for an iPad? “Sure thing!” I would say, “Here’s a back cata­logue of every sea­son of The Bach­el­or ever filmed — fry your little dog­gie brain with it!” May I reit­er­ate that Dog is not even mine.

How do par­ents who actu­ally cre­ated and have at least par­tial own­er­ship of their own chil­dren make these kinds of decisions? It’s all very well to not believe in iPads, to want to buy your kids mul­tiple cop­ies of the pre-2015 Oxford Juni­or Dic­tion­ary and a worm farm, and not let them back indoors until din­ner­time. But what if they ask; in fact, what if they beg, get­ting down on their little knees, round glisten­ing eyes implor­ing you to give in just this once? That sounds like abso­lute torture.

So what’s the solu­tion? Thank­fully, me hav­ing kids is a few years away, so at least I’ve got a while to plan wheth­er I move into a remote com­mune devoid of tech­no­logy or not.

The rest of you are doomed.

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