Several months ago, M began agitating for an IPod Touch. He already had a Shuffle, a gift from his grandfather who won it at work. Plus he had a Nintendo DS and access to the computer and Wii (technically his dad’s). So why in the world would he need another electronic device?
Turns out having the latest and greatest electronic device is the 21st century equivalent of keeping up with the Joneses. When his dad asked him why he wanted an IPod Touch, M burst into tears and started crying about all his friends had one and he was the only one who didn’t. His father launched into a lecture about how there was always somebody else who had what we wanted and just wanting stuff because our friends wanted it wasn’t a good reason…not exactly what any child wants to hear. I think M started crying louder, just to drown out his father.
We didn’t make any promises at that point, other than to say we would think about it. After talking to a number of friends with children the same age, we decided he could get one, with the condition that he pay at least half from his savings. We didn’t actually commit to a purchase date. I think we were both hoping M would forget about it.
M continued to raise the issue and this weekend, he finally got his IPod Touch. He’s paying about 3/4 of the full price. He has been advised that he can’t take it to school – the school board doesn’t allow devices with cameras. Of course, he spent as much time as he was allowed either playing games or downloading new games.
I still have very mixed feelings about the IPod. On the one hand, he has enough trouble limiting himself to 30 minutes a day of media time, just with what was already in the house. We’ve never counted listening to music as part of his electronics time, but if he is listening to music on his IPod Touch, what’s to say he won’t also be playing games? Hardly fair to ask a 10-year old to police himself.
On the other hand, M wanted this enough to put up most of his savings. Making decisions about how you spend your own money is an important part of growing up. If we had given it to him as a gift, I’m not sure it would have been as meaningful. Nor do I think there would have been as much impetus to take care of it. In both scenarios, losing it means it’s gone – it won’t be replaced. But having invested his own money, hopefully M will be sufficiently motivated to take care of the IPod. He hasn’t ever lost his Nintendo, although he has misplaced it more than once, at karate, the bottom of his knapsack and myriad other places around the house.
So we’ll see how it goes. I fully expect that he will continue to protest about how much time he gets. I also expect that there will be moments when I will wonder what the hell was thinking I and/or how did I let myself be talked into letting him get the IPod Touch (easy enough to blame it on my husband, since he is a much big fan of technology than I am). But M needs to take on more responsibility for making his own decisions and living with the consequences. And as hard as it is for me, I need to let him.