Raising an On-Demand Child


Raising an On-Demand Child by Duri Al-Ajrami. Duri shares his tales of raising children in our 24 hour high speed life, with one button access to on demand fun.

"Daddy, when will you finish with the laptop? I want to watch the Ben10
game cheats" (on YouTube)

"Daddy, I am going downstairs to watch the Bakugan episode I missed
yesterday on the DVR" (seriously!)

"Daddy, are you recording the Star Wars movie?" (While watching the Star
Wars movie!)

He may be 5.5 years old, but my little rascal has it all figured out.

Simply put, his world operates at the push of a button!

The concept of a schedule is foreign to him. Anything can happen at

In a world with numerous 24 hour cartoon channels, 24 hour high speed
internet and DVR, an on-demand generation is clearly emerging, and those
always-on channels are having a profound impact on our kids, bigger than we
really see. And I'm not talking about the content.

In my days, cartoons had a daily 2 hour slot on one local TV station.
That's it!

But as many of you remember, we waited twice as anxiously for them, and
enjoyed them 10 times as much.

As kids, it taught us that there is a limit to everything we do, even fun.
It also taught us that there is a right time for everything we do, a system
to our days that we needed to abide by.

But most importantly, it taught us that not all the time is "me time".

Whatever happened to anticipation? patience?

Back in my days, neither Pixar nor Dream Works matched the amazing
animation offered by a pop-out book! I can still trace the big smiles they
drew on my face.

Remote controls, touch pads and wii sticks have become my son's access
tools into his animated world.

Yes, it's part of his generation's exposure to "new media". But lacking the
"control" that usually comes with adulthood, this may be shaping their
characters more than we know.

Don't get me wrong, I consider myself a tech freak and I do love exposing
my kids to all types of new technology, but growing up in a lower-middle
class family taught me that sometimes you can learn much more from limits
than abundance.

And yes I was highly influenced - as per most kids of my generation - by
the amazing silver screen. But it was more about shaping part of my
knowledge, emotions and experience, than shaping who I am.

My fear - and I am seeing this more and more everyday - is that this new
always on / on-demand revolution is shaping who the kids of today's
generation are, and aren't.

They aren't patient, they aren't accommodating and they aren't broadcasting
as much as they're receiving.

And they're not stopping there. Their on-demand craving is painting a
perfect world for them where there are on-demand parents, on-demand play
dates and of course on-demand candy :)

All because they know that they can rely on the fact that somewhere around
the house, there is a button they can push to make things happen.

When the first mass production mobile phones were introduced in 1996, we
were all wondering why people would need to be connected with others all
through the day? And what would they talk about when they get home if
everything that happened throughout their day was already communicated?

Back then, everything had 10 times the value, because everything was

Companies were making very good money on an 8 hour per day limited
connectivity plan, people were building very fruitful relationships and
common law partners had a lot to talk about when they got home.

I mean I'm certainly happy to enjoy Ad free TV for $6 per month - the cost
of a Cogeco DVR subscription - but how will my kids learn the value of
yesterday if they can live it today and everyday, and how will they learn
the sorrow of missing something if they can record their favorite moments
in life.

What tomorrow holds for my growing gems is still unknown, and regardless of
how much technology will change them, I know that part of them will stay
mine forever :). After all, and as per the words in Green Day's song "It's
something unpredictable, but in the end its right, I hope they have the
time of their lives"

A little about Duri-

Armed with a BA in Economics and a Masters in MIS
Ventured into the Dot Com field early in his career when he started up the first Online Ad Sales unit under Arabia.com in 1998. Arabia.com was the first Internet Media website in the Middle East created under a joint venture between Intel and HP. Became Arabia.com Sales & Marketing Director in 2002 based in Dubai.
*In 2003, Duri established the first Internet Media House in the MENA region, Net Advantage where he signed exclusive representation agreements with 70 leading portals from the region. By 2005, Net Ad owned the largest online advertising Media Network in the MENA region.
*In 2005 Duri started up his own Interactive Agency; IGENCY, offering clients turn-key digital marketing solutions handling clients like IBM, HSBC, Marriot, Air Arabia, Sony Ericsson.
*In 2005 Duri established the Arab Internet Standards Organization, which was a joint initiative between the British Standards Institute and Dubai Internet City for creating Internet Quality Standards for websites (ISO web certificates).
*In 2006 Mindshare, the WPP leading media agency, approached IGENCY with an acquisition deal, which was concluded in Jan 2007 where IGENCY became Mindshare Interaction, and Duri became the Managing Director of Mindshare Interaction.
*In Jan 2009, Duri moved with his wife and two kids to Toronto where he became the Director of Social Marketing for OgilvyOne Toronto.