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Modern parenting in an on-demand world

If you’re a parent, I need your help today, and this involves parenting.

What effect does growing up in an on-demand world have on your kids? Do you see it as a positive thing or negative thing?

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Let me explain. I was out to dinner last night with an old friend, and we got to talking about his 2-year-old daughter. He mentioned that for some reason she loves one particular Neil Diamond song. Why wouldn’t she?

Whenever she wants some “NeeDie,” he can just dial it up on his phone, and there it is.

Instant access is the only reality kids will ever know. They can get any content they want, any time they want, anywhere they want.

Is this the best thing ever, or are they missing out on that anticipation and longing from when this didn’t exist?

I have such vivid memories of hearing a song on the radio and not knowing who it was. First you had to track down the artist or the name of the song. Sometimes I would actually call the radio station and stay on hold just to ask “Who sings that song?” Next, I would beg, borrow, or steal the money from mom and dad, turn over couch cushions, or raid the spare change jar to get enough money to go buy the record.

Looking back, it had a treasure hunt feel to it. If I really wanted it, I had to work for it.

Then I would ride my Diamondback BMX bike to the record store and search for my treasure buried in a mountain of records, then tapes, and then CDs. It was so satisfying to finally get home, pop it on the record player, or in the cassette deck, and have that song. I felt like I literally owned the song. It was mine now.

That cycle of discovery is such a part of my DNA. If I could have had anything I wanted at any time, would it be the same?

Saturday morning cartoons happened on Saturday. You had to be there in person. If you missed it, tough luck. There was no definitive way to know the name of that guy in that thing. There were things you just could not have. Questions that just hung in the air unanswered.

So parents, what are the little treasures of today? What are the things that kids covet and have to work for? Is it better to have it all — all the time?

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