The On-Demand Generation: Did We Forget Patience?

Photo from ABC News

Over the past three years, I have encouraged my toddler to adopt new technology in their development. In addition to playing outside, reading books, playing with puzzles and coloring in coloring books,  we also experimented with devices such as iPads and smartphone. This experimentation was so that my son could play educational games developed by Disney and Fisher Price to assist in his learning of shapes, colors and numbers. We also saw it help with his hand eye coordination and motor skills. Aside from mobile devices, we introduced him to educational TV shows such as The Little Einstein’s, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, Elmo and the list goes on. However, we started to notice a trend. My son was able to watch any of these shows whenever he asked and we allowed thanks to on-demand TV.

As some of you may remember, while growing up cartoons were only available on Saturday mornings and for a few hours in the afternoon during the week. If we were not home at the specified time we missed our favorite show for any reason and we had to wait until next week, unless our parents planned ahead and recorded it on the VCR.

Today, children do not have to worry about missing their shows because they are available 24/7 through the internet, Netflix, Amazon and their cable provider’s on-demand services. Children also are not limited to watching TV at home. Instead they are able to watch TV anywhere with an iPad, smartphone, tablet or any other mobile device. At first, I thought this was great, after all. It meant calming down a screaming child in public at times when all other solutions were exhausted. However, with all good things come the consequences. Do these devices and on-demand gaming and viewing affect children?

Over the past few years, many articles have been written around the concept that new technology and new media may affect a child’s development. Although there is not a lot of data yet to support it because it still is very new as stated in a 2013 article by JuJu Chang of ABC News, I still have my own theory on the affects technology may have had on my own child.

My theory has been that on-demand gaming and on-demand viewing has slowed my child’s development of three important human lessons: patience, waiting and disappointment. After teaching him his numbers, shapes and colors (and the occasional quite time I received by plopping him in front of his favorite show) when did he learn three lessons? He has grown to expect things when he wants and anywhere. Don’t get me wrong, we do say “No” at times, but has he ever experience the feeling of missing his favorite cartoon and having to wait a whole week to see it again?

Image from NY Daily News,

Although technology brings many great advantages, do you think that children today are being groomed to expect too much right now? Do you think they are not learning the art of patience and waiting? How will this translate when they become adults and contribute to the world?


2 thoughts on “The On-Demand Generation: Did We Forget Patience?

  1. Maybe the question isn’t whether the children are learning the art of patience and waiting, but perhaps the parents. The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages media use by children younger than age 2 and recommends limiting older children’s screen time to no more than one or two hours a day. In addition, a study by the academy found that babies who are fussy or have trouble sleeping spend more time in front of the screen, raising questions about parents becoming too reliant on television and videos.

    Device makers like Amazon and Google advertise parental controls such as Amazon FreeTime that will automatically shut down a device after a certain amount of time. But is it really up to the device makers to help regulate screentime for kids? Unfortunately, there seems to be a lack of uniformity or agreement when it comes to what is the appropriate amount of time for children, adding an additional layer of confusion for parents.


    • Hi Heather,

      I agree it is the parents responsiblity. That is exactly what I am eluding to in my post. If the parents are not regulating the time their child is in front of the TV, mobile device, video games or whatever the case may be, the child is potentially losing out on other social skills they otherwise could be developing. Parents still need to parent even if it seems easier by placing a device in front of their child.


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