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Moms and technology: a generational divide

Editor’s Note: Here at NolaVie we love our moms, so today we are giving publication to stories about moms or stories written by moms. And, there’s a theme: Moms and technology. With many generations of moms in her family, Renee Peck shows that technology often does one thing when used correctly: it brings families together. 

My family epitomizes the generational technology divide.

My octogenarian mom grew up in a world without cell phones, computers, microwave ovens or cruise control. Her childhood phone number was simply 243.

The author and her mom, Facebook pals

The author and her mom, Facebook pals

Mine was the ‘tween tech generation – born without, but reared with ever-evolving electronic wonders. I graduated from Underwood to Selectric to Word for Windows over a four-decade writing career.

My three daughters belong to the first generation to live entirely in an electronic environment. They do not know life without texts, streaming music or GPS. Although, they did have to navigate some technological bumps in the road – Sony Walkman to Bluetooth, pagers (remember those?) to smart phones, Garmin to Google Earth.

My 20-month-old grandson is truly a child of the new Millenium. He somehow learned how to swipe a screen right to left without benefit of instruction – much the way my own kids discovered the existence of white bread.

What divides has also conquered: All four generations of my particular clan have embraced new gizmos with enthusiasm, if not expertise. I can recall my mother’s fascination with new-fangled TV dinners in the ‘60s (those cute aluminum trays!), and bread machines and yogurt makers a decade later. I would bet that ours was the first household in our small town to have a personal computer.

My daughters taught me to text after Hurricane Katrina, when cell phone calls didn’t connect but those tiny typed messages did.

All of us ride these days on the digital bandwagon, with my mom posting on her grandchildren’s Facebook pages and checking their Instagram feeds. Her 5-year-old great-granddaughter chats on Facetime with her from Colorado. My own daughters can zip through complex spreadsheets or pull things from the cloud with aplomb, although two of them just learned that ovens have an overhead cooking element called a broiler (I don’t think the youngest knows that yet).

Our electronic embrace may not be typical; my husband’s mother not only has no computer, but also has refused years of well-meaning attempts to supply her with a microwave oven.

Mostly, I think, our family’s digital philosophy lies in the belief that, as distances lengthen, literally, among generations, technical advances can help bring us back together. Even if fleetingly.

So excuse me while I go Skype with my mom, a state away. And Happy Mother’s Day.


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