A computer for Alice? Lizzie leads the way, as usual…

Ollie Banks finds that a joint approach by his wife and daughter leaves him with nowhere to go when it comes to buying more technology – but then he hits on a compromise. But is his control of the situation merely an illusion?

“If you can’t beat them, join them.” said Lizzie.

“They wouldn’t have me,” said Ollie. “I’m not good enough to play in their league.” He was busy writing Aston Villa’s season fixtures on the kitchen calendar. A Villa fan since his early teens, he followed them with a devotion akin to fanaticism, and was focussed on the task in hand. He was therefore surprised when he turned and saw his wife and daughter looking at him. It was mildly unnerving to see his daughter using the same expression as her mother; a withering look somewhere between pity and annoyance.

“What?” he asked.

“This isn’t about football; it’s about Alice,” said Lizzie, pointing at the five-year-old, who had an iPad tucked under her arm.

“What?” he asked again, having no idea where the conversation was going, and what, if anything, he had done wrong.

“Alice and I have been talking…” said Lizzie.

“Oh dear,” thought Ollie, but managed not to say it out loud.

“Alice and I have been talking, and we think she should have a tablet computer of her own, because if you can’t beat them, you should join them. But in a controlled way.

“You see,” she went on, “we’ve arrived at a point where we can do virtually nothing without computers, and technology will move on, so that when Alice and Jack are our age, they need to be so familiar with it that using it is as natural as breathing.”

Ollie wasn’t as taken with the idea. “That’s all well and good,” he said, “but I don’t want her or Jack to be so rolled up in technology that they don’t do all of the other things they should do, like after school clubs, and running in the park, and bike-riding. And what about reading books? The right books are better at feeding children’s imaginations than laptop games. All of those things are important too. And curling up in bed with a good book is an excellent way to end the day…”

Solo Expenses saves the money
“I like the way you’re thinking, Banks,” replied Lizzie. “To be honest, I thought the first thing you’d mention would be the cost, and you didn’t. I suppose using Solo Expenses for our money management means there’s a bit of slack in the financial department that we could use to buy one…”

“Well, since you mention it, even if there was, I’m not sure it’s the kind of investment we should be making in a five-year-old. If we do that for her, we shall have to do it for Jack too, and it just doesn’t seem right. Remember our tech charter, stuck to the front of the fridge? About not over-using technology at the expense of other worthwhile stuff?”

Alice had been watching the exchange between her parents, and now tugged at her mother’s sleeve. “I’ve already got one. Look.” She held out the tablet. “Tell him about the books, Mummy.”

“Yes; the books,” Said Lizzie. There’s a great app for Android called Ebookadabra. It’s the best of both worlds, because it puts about 1,000 picture books into one place, so Alice could be looking at books and using a tablet at the same time. What’s not to like about that?”

The flourish of her final question put Ollie in mind of a stage magician who’d just pulled off an apparently impossible trick. “OK then, we’ll get that, but we’ll put it onto one of the tablets we already own for now, and see how we get on with it. But we’ll still need to limit the time spent on it. Maybe we can think about buying another tablet later. There’s no rule that says we have to spend the money just because we’ve saved it.”

“Oh, I love it when you’re masterful, Banks. It suits you,” said Lizzie.

Ollie smiled, but wondered if any suggestion of mastery of the situation on his part was merely an illusion…