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Does your smartphone make you a dumber father?



I hate clichés more than anything else, but my child is the best thing that ever happened to me.

J. has mitigated my approach to the world (even as the world around us falls apart); he has rekindled my interest in the ways and means of the universe; and for the first time in my life he has allowed me to live outside the busy monkey brain that bursts in my skull, at least when he presses his fluffy head against my chest.

He is four, but he loves hexadecimal numbers (whatever), tectonic plates, and the early work of Marvin Hamlisch. In a way, I want to be more like him. I'm learning about National Geographic and Wikipedia so I can talk at its level, and it helps me understand the origins of thunderstorms and the fractal wonders of the Fibonacci series.

When I'm not around, he puts his stuffed animals in a circle, takes out his whiteboard, and says, "Animals, let's do some math problems." But I am his father, and that means that he wants to be as inevitable as I am.

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And what does daddy do?

Professionally, I'm a bookwriter, but more honestly, I'm an iPhone user, occasionally, to pay the mortgage, bring out one or two novels.

The phone has taken over my life and partially destroyed I'm a dystopian writer and keep me 30 seconds up to date as a watch collector, my sad hobby in middle age I'm addicted to the desperation that surrounds me, I'm constantly surfing on observation sites (yes, that's one thing) and finding new pieces for my collection.

Texting? Betting? The usual lyrics to having with my spouse, friends and plumbers to keep up, and the constant working texts to agents, editors and impatient drivers.

J. has picked up on the fact that Daddy lives on the phone and he's started to phone my and my wife's and, because he was born after 2010, he uses it as naturally as I used an abacus when I grew up in the Soviet Union in the early 1970s.

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I'm not worried that he'll find the wrong content, at least not yet, he's mainly interested in videos with prime numbers and the Aurora australis. But he finds out that the future of his world is lived in the digital realm as well as in the real world – that is, my four-year-old discovered the SMS.

"GOOD NEWS," he writes to his beloved babysitter.

The thunder storm has stopped nine hours and 20 minutes ago. "

" CAN YOU GO TO WAGAMAMA WITH ME? "

" I HAVE 995 DOLLARS AND 30 CENTS. "

" ABSOLUTELY, "his babysitter writes back. "THAT'S MUCH MONEY, J."

"THANK YOU," he writes back to her.

"4:30"

I & # 39; I'm glad that my four-year-old is worried enough about his babysitter to make sure she does not stay in the rain.

I am also glad that he can invite her to an early noodles dinner (4:30) and announces that he has enough cash available when the check comes. (I honestly do not know how he got so much money, did he invest in passing?)

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<p class= Children were always I was in a hurry to grow up, but life has never been this way When I was the age of my son, my dad told me there was a tree on which baguettes grew, and that idea probably made me obsess over a good year.

He and I drove once past a tree that looked like a bicycle tire was stuck between its branches, and my dad looked at me as if to say, "See? Anything grows on trees. "That I've become a true believer.

These days, my s on just type" growing baguettes on trees? "Into my phone and say" Daddy, that's not right "three seconds later. in the tone he takes with his stuffed animals when they have a problem in "math" class. "

I understand that people are evolving and the barriers between humans and technology will continue to collapse, but I do not want to yet That my son will go to the other side, no matter how sophisticated.

Instead of relieving his anxiety and fear, the phone adds

Maybe it's time to tell the truth to my son, Daddy Looks at his phone so often, not because it makes him happy, but because every wipe and tap on his screen emits a small amount of dopamine that makes him wipe and tap even more in an endless cycle to generate advertising revenue for some large companies in Northern California.

Instead of relieving his anxiety and fear, the phone adds.

Maybe J. would understand that. He knows when dad is scared. When confronted with the 443 foot London Eye (I'm both a claustrophobic and an acrophobicist), he said to me, "Do not worry, Daddy, I hold your hand."

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Parenting in these troubled times is not for the faint-hearted and sometimes forget My son needs me more than I need him, it's time to let go of the fear and craving for dopamine and turn my phone off.

The real world is waiting for us, and so is the world of imagination that is I know a baguette tree in Central Park that is ripe for harvest.

– Gary Shteyngart is the author of several novels, his latest Lake Success Twitter @shteyngart.


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