The iPad Wars
Copyright 2022 by Lane Igoudin
Photo courtesy of Raw Pixel.com
am a deeply engaged father of two teenage daughters: one just
graduated high school, the other still has two more years to go. Over
the last few years, I’ve been watching with amazement and
trepidation their transformation from adorable kids into assertive
young women, a challenging journey of growth for them, but also for
my partner and me. In this story, I recount one such experience.
called our daughter a ‘drama queen’ in Minecraft. She was
playing on the server with an avatar, when the conversation turned to
where exactly?” I ask.
do you know it was a ‘he’?”
don’t know,” Linda shrugs. “It’s an avatar,
long have the two of you been talking?”
wrinkles her smooth forehead, “A week, maybe two? He liked me –
he said so – he said my profile picture is really cute. So he
wanted to go someplace in the forest, but I said bye, and he called
me a drama queen. What is a drama queen, Pappy?”
I see your profile?” I ask. I had no idea you can have
conversations with strangers on something as innocuous as Minecraft.
hands me her iPad and tucks a long lock of hair behind her ear, a
graceful, and at the same time, more womanly, more calibrated gesture
than I remember.
click on her profile picture – her pretty, creamy face, brown
hair, clearly a teen. The avatar had to have known that.
not much information in her profile, nothing that leads straight to
her, to this house, to this bedroom, but, I notice, Linda posted her
age as 14. She’s not. She is 11. Why on Earth did she want to
pass for an older girl? Why list your age at all? The implications
are unnerving, to say the least.
is getting out of hand, Linda. You can keep the iPad, but I don’t
think you should have access to the WiFi anymore.”
I need it, I need the WiFi! How am I supposed to play Minecraft
without other people?” Linda exhales with frustration, jerkingrking
up her palms at the obvious: “It’s bo-ring!”
me, it’s a signal that 1. her iPad is taken for granted, 2. her
Minecraft is taken for granted, and 3. she can’t think of other
ways to entertain herself except chatting with strangers.
don’t have to agree with me, Linda, but it’s for your own
good,” I say. “You can still use it, but no Internet for
now.” So I go ahead and suppress the WiFi on her iPad.
so I think.
start to notice that the power strip to the router, turned off every
night, would mysteriously turn itself back on before dawn.
the iPad vanishes. Linda swears she has no idea where it might be.
She keeps saying so for three days straight.
it disappear, I figure, is convenient. Disappeared, it can provide
hours of fun when she is asleep. One telltale sign is dark circles
under her eyes.
more revealing is Linda’s nonplussed attitude about the loss:
had she truly lost her iPad, she would’ve run crestfallen to us
for help, or, even more likely, vociferously accuse her sister of
stealing her beloved personal assistant device. Her nonchalance can
only mean one thing.
ransack her whole room, pulling out drawers, rummaging through the
T-shirts and jeans thrown haphazardly into the dresser. I even drag
her full-size mattress off the bed and turn it upside down.
not here!” Linda yells angrily.
I leave the room a complete disaster, the mattress on the floor.
Linda shrugs, and the athlete that she is, pulls it back up on her
bed by herself. Where is the
next day, Linda’s remark “it’s not here” pops
into my head. What did she mean by “not here”?
start one more time in her room, then stop, turn 180 degrees, and
cross the hallway to the bathroom, inspect the drawers and corners;
continue on to the dining room, circle the dining room table, lift
each chair, and then, intuitively, decide to look under the table
itself. There it is, hidden in the hollow opening of the table’s
pedestal base – the silver iPad.
remove it from Linda for a week.
return comes with three conditions: no Internet access, no iPad in
the bedroom overnight, and my knowledge of her iPad password so I
could always check what’s going on.
the iPad in her hands delicately like a holy relic, Linda accepts her
partial loss of privileges without rancor. Every night after school
now, she plays quietly the downloaded games and releases the iPad to
me when it’s time to go to bed. She finally learned that having
an electronic device is privilege, not a right.
so I think until casting a casual glance at her adding new wings to a
stylish house set in a verdant green lawn, I spot the WiFi bars
pulsing at the top of the screen. She is not supposed to be on the
Internet, I’d erased the WiFi router sign-in information, and
now it has magically reappeared.
am no techie wiz, so this time, I consult the Internet and learn how
to make the iPad “forget a network” for good.
try it out while Linda is at school. It works! The WiFi connection is
gone and stays gone.
a couple of days, Linda keeps playing Minecraft and Candy Crush like
nothing happened. Then an email pops into my email in-box: “Your
Apple ID password has been successfully reset.”
huh? I know I haven’t
changed it. I can’t even remember what it is.
is at her sports practice. I log into her iPad and then watch it log
effortlessly into our WiFi router. Well, so much for the “forget
a network” trick.
the reset Apple ID, I discover, my daughter has opened her own Gmail
account, started to communicate on FaceTime and iMessage, signed up
for Facebook, minimum age be damned, and even posted some homespun
videos on YouTube. While her browsing choices have been harmless –
Minecraft videos, epic fails, and other such inanities – what I
am staring at is a parallel life my 11-year-old has been leading
behind her bedroom door.
an instant, I feel the ground slipping beneath my feet, while my head
is flooded with worry, with questions. Why would she want this second
life? Are we such oppressive, controlling parents? I certainly never
thought so. What else has she been hiding? Is this the worse she’s
begin to see that I won’t get any answers to any of this. But
in the meantime, a more pressing question comes, which is what to do
next – now that I know? Take it away from her once and for all?
Threaten with consequences?
my anger, I see that it’s not so much about who controls the
iPad. It’s about a young person wanting to have a life of her
own, while we, her parents, are afraid of the boundless, dangerous
world waiting for her out there. We want her to develop a sense of
caution before she plunges into it headlong, and these iPad
repossessions and returns are just the tools to guide her.
though, Linda is the one who’ll need to find her balance in the
world, both real and virtual. She stands before it, young and
inexperienced. We can only do our best to help. And part of it is
going through this cycle as many times as it will take.
Igoudin teaches English and linguistics at Los Angeles City College
and blogs about mindfulness, spiritual growth, and fatherhood. Though
he has published a few articles and essays, primarily on the websites
dedicated to these subjects, as well as chapters in academic books in
linguistics, he has not published any books of fiction or
non-fiction. Not yet. His website is www.laneigoudin.com
of the message
won't know where to send it.)
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