Xtreme planet

Day-planning for pre-teens

Behold the Mary-Kate and Ashley Pocket Planner. It’s a cartridge for the Game Boy, and allows pre-teens to organize their busy days with the same sort of neurotic efficiency deployed by their boomer parents. “Keep your busy life UNDER CONTROL in the COOLEST way possible,” crows the advertising copy. “ORGANIZE while having FUN.”

For a few years now, I’ve been freaked out by the professionalization of childhood — the idea that every single moment of a kid’s life needs to be as co-ordinated as a military campaign. The technology world has only been too happy to oblige, of course. When I wandered into a Radio Shack in the holidays, I was stunned by how many data-organizer tools there were for kids as young as, like, two: Hotwheel’s laptops, cell phones, you name it. Of course, when I was a kid I loved gadgets too — but I wanted gadgets that would blow shit up, not segment my day into 15-minute meetings. (Okay, it’s officially now Curmudgeon Day here at my blog.)

Personally, I think it would be more interesting to reverse the process — and, instead of having kids use the organizing tools of adults, let’s have adults use the organizing tools of kids. I’m going to found a company and force all my employees to exclusively use the Mary-Kate and Ashley Pocket Planner to co-ordinate their work days. (And use the “Ask Ashley” mode to make major corporate decisions.)

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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