There is no need for a human babysitter anymore (or social skills). Just give the kids an iPad.

There is no need for a human babysitter anymore (or social skills). Just give the kids an iPad.

by Mike Todd

“Hey, sorry, we’re running behind. We’ll be about an hour late,” my buddy Josh said, and I already knew he was lying.

“No problem; see you in an hour,” I replied, hanging up and waiting for the rumble of his car in the driveway. Three beats later, I heard two car doors slam, and then he was walking to the front door with his six-year-old son, Issac.

“We got you! It was Isaac’s idea,” Josh said. If that was true, Isaac comes by his sense of humor honestly, because his dad has been calling from our mailbox to tell us he’s running late for over a decade. Some jokes, like my hairline, are genetic, which is only funny depending on your perspective.

“Hey, look, Evan, Isaac’s here!” I said, curious to see if Evan would jump for joy or play it cool. He’d been bugging me all day.

“Is Isaac here yet? Is Isaac here yet?” he’d been repeating for hours, to the point that the words began to lose their meaning.

Evan hid behind my leg, going through his normal 30 seconds of shyness. He’d played with Isaac several times, but since we live a few hours away, we can only get them together a couple of times a year.

Finally, Evan emerged into full view, smiling, looking up at me as if he had something important to say. As a parent, you treasure moments like these, when the stars align so that your kids can carry a friendship forward to the next generation.

“iPad?” Evan asked. The regular reader(s) of this column might recall that Evan has recently become obsessed with an educational (for the wrong reasons) game in which he controls a shark that devours people.

“Dude, you’ve been waiting all day for Isaac to get here,” I replied, trying to save the situation.

“Play iPad now?” Evan asked.

Isaac looked at Evan, then back at his dad.

“Dad, can you go get my iPad out of the car?” he asked.

So that is how our kids came to be sitting in the same room, inhabiting different worlds. To make the scene worse, our youngest son, Zack, just got a hand-me-down iPad from my father-in-law, a generous byproduct of grandpa’s upgrade to a new one.

We asked if grandpa would rather get some trade-in money for his old iPad, but apparently you can’t trade in the original iPad anymore.

“Whoa, haven’t seen one of those in a while,” the guy in the Apple store said, as if he’d just been handed a gramophone.

Do you remember when the original iPad debuted? According to Wikipedia, it was released on April 3, 2010, after Marilyn Monroe invented it. I have mustard in my fridge that is older than the original iPad. That mustard has more trade-in value, too.

Josh and I looked at the three kids sitting there, paying zero attention to each other. “Remember in college when that guy passed out on my floor, and we used him as a coffee table, propping our feet on him for hours while we played Mortal Kombat?” he asked.

Sure, when we were younger, we stared at the screen for hours with our friends, too, but at least we were staring at the same screen. Also, it’s good to have friends in your life who can remind you of the times that you used human beings as furniture.

“This is making me sad. Let’s make them do something else,” I said, motioning to the three zombies.

With the iPads stacked on the fridge, we found that a game of “Pelt a Dad with a Snowball” is a great way to get the kids connected, assuming you can get them disconnected from the electronic devices that seem to have been surgically attached to their hands.

Ed. note: It may seem pathetic that these kids cannot relate to other kids, only to a small screen in their hands, but look on the bright side. If one of these kids ever winds up in prison and in solitary confinement, he should do quite well, certainly much better than previous generations of anti-social criminals, at least if he has an electronic device to keep him company.