Photos and statuses are shared in Facebook showing children in the family, along with adults, spending time together, but each tinkering with a gadget of his/her own. People thought them to be funny. But are they?
I had thought a similar scene funny, too and amazing. When in the late 90’s my youngest child first learned how to use the mouse than hold a crayon, I thought I was watching a prodigious child in the mold of the nerdy Bill Gates. He would just watch us use the first desktop PC in the household, and lo and behold, he would astonish us by pressing the right keys. Soon enough, EJ learned how to play the early versions of the computer games mostly by watching us adults, and with some tutorials by her oldest sister, even before he attended his first school.
Not many households in the Philippines were equipped with a desktop computer, much more a laptop that did not come cheap in those days. Having found a valid reason to purchase one, the business applications that were installed in the PC were used less often than the multimedia entertainment programs, with games at the forefront.
Maybe the first viruses that were introduced in those days were the kind that made computer games addicting. That was a joke, of course. The game designers and program developers definitely hit a goldmine for the computer companies they worked for when they successfully transformed these PC users, especially the children, into adept and habitual gamers.
Thus, the generation of the mouse potatoes was born.
We only heard before of couch potatoes, referring to those people who lounged a lot and spent many hours on the couch as they watched television with endless servings of popcorn, junk food and lots of soda. Today, they have been outnumbered by the mouse potatoes who have shown more panache by being themselves even outside their homes. They do not need the confines of their living room or bedroom to be both in touch and out of touch with their smartphones or tablets connected to the net. They are everywhere – commuters, pedestrians and motorists alike have their heads buried in their mobile screens, despite the safety issue of multi-tasking on the road. In campuses and offices, they are always busy with their phones texting or calling, or with their computers, iPads and tablets working, or simply posting FB statuses, or tweeting. Mouse potatoes are those techie people, children and adults alike, who spend long, continuous hours in the computer and other gadgets, connecting with the world like never seen before.
To be very candid about it, my kids are mouse potatoes, so am I. The husband is coming close to being one, too, growing tired of the couch and the TV set that both have seen better days.
Is being too techy doing us all good? Frankly speaking, no, for a number of good reasons, especially concerning health matters. Out of necessity, though, at least on the part of the parents and the working children, who mostly depend on the computer in their jobs, becoming mouse potatoes cannot be helped. For the younger kids, they need to have more time off with their gadgets and avoid them as much as they can while they still can. Because when it’s their turn to get real jobs in the future, they’ll surely end up being the same ‘rodent,’ too.
One serious health issue from being a mouse potato is the lack of physical exertion, leading to obesity and related illnesses like diabetes, hypertension, heart ailments and other conditions. My son and his cousins have grown bigger in girth and they wonder why. A nephew is looking obese and my daughter’s boyfriend is close to look like one, too. In my readings, I have come across studies showing a direct correlation between being mouse potatoes and obesity among children and teenagers. These studies can be ‘googled’ easily. In fact, there was one mention of a new type of ‘rodent,’ referring to couch-mouse potatoes, being closely watched by health professionals.
I, too, am overweight by as much as five plus kilos. Metabolism and hormones definitely are the culprit – and my mouse potato lifestyle. Also, I suffered from De Quervain’s syndrome that had my tendon in my right thumb badly inflamed from three years of doing online customer service work at home. It got worse when the family tried engaging in a small food business for some months that ended my romance with the mouse, only to develop an intimacy with the kitchen knife. When the pain got really bad, I had to undergo several months of physical therapy to restore the function of my right hand, along with some medications that did not help much. In the end, I resorted to steroid injections, which thankfully worked wonders and made my hand almost new, but not quite the same. It was a close call to surgery.
Whether or not we can evolve from our couch-mouse potato bodies to a better-looking higher form of species (like Captain Muscle maybe? 🙂 is certainly asking for the moon. My brood of lazybones will likely invoke the scientists who are making progress in the discovery of the cloak of invisibility to hurry up in perfecting their invention for them. After all these are kids who want instant solution to their problems, even if they are not real solutions at all.
Spending time each day for some physical activity is a no-no for both kids and even adults. As my children grew, I made it my mission to make sports buffs out of them, like their father used to be – just as I wanted for myself, too. I enrolled them and myself in summer lawn tennis and badminton clinics. One daughter took up taekwondo for sometime. We had spent many bonding time walking, jogging and swimming. But no passion ever developed out of these forays.
As a parent, I constantly blame myself for what my children have become and are, likewise, not becoming.
A third generation boy, Joshua, my first grandchild, not yet two years old, has been demonstrating the same nimbleness with technology, much like his uncle EJ has shown 14 years ago. A standing potato, he watches his favorite “Thomas and Friends” on a big LCD TV screen, standing up really, really close to it because he makes himself believe that he is part of the series. He uses his mom’s iPhone with relative ease and has been a rival user of his mom’s iPad, too. On June 28 when he turns two, he gets to own a Samsung Galaxy Tab, thanks (or no thanks) to indulging parents who thought of the gift so that they can protect the Apple iPad from the toddler. But my grandchild is smarter. He calls the original Josh iPad and the Galaxy mommy’s iPad. LOL!
More than a decade from now, I’d probably see myself as an overweight granny, still adept with computers, but cannot run across the badminton court chasing the shuttlecock anymore. Maybe I can do some gym-stuff. I’m not sure about tennis, though.
My kids and my grandson? Oh, they must all have doubled their sizes by then, with eyes badly refracted, likewise be dealing with some health issues in their youth, while they’d be munching junk as they tinker with their tablets for endless hours. Their father/grandfather, in turn, would most likely be sitting on a different couch still watching Discovery Channel, while I’d probably be looking despondent in the rocking chair, sadly absorbing the scene like a movie that I’d already seen.
Proverbs 27:23 – Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, [and] look well to thy herds.