Tech Toddler VS Un-Tech Uncle

by Farida Haji

The Prophet ﷺ said:

وَمَنْ سَلَكَ طَرِيقًا يَلْتَمِسُ فِيهِ عِلْمًا سَهَّلَ اللَّهُ لَهُ بِهِ طَرِيقًا إِلَى الْجَنَّةِ

Whoever follows a path in pursuit of knowledge, Allah will make easy for him a path to paradise.

[Sunan Ibn Majah, no. 225]

There is a disparity in how generations have interacted with technology, especially when practicing Islam. Some are welcoming, others are reluctant. The onset of digitization has led many elders to taunt their children for the amount of time their grandchildren spend in front of the screens — without realizing the negative and positive impact of this visual consumption on themselves.

The sole purpose of technology is to make our lives easier and convenient. We cannot dismiss the fact that the Glass Generation reflects the culmination of this way of life when it comes to using any type of technology.

The Generations

1. Boomers (1946 – 1964) & Gen X (1965 – 1980)

This is our un-tech uncle and aunty generation. Reluctant to change. They raise eyebrows when the kids ask Alexa to play their rhymes. They pile books that have two layers of dust and are probably redundant in terms of updated information about science and technology. However, that bookshelf also has an old Quran they recite everyday, and is also the cleanest spot!

2. Millennials (1981 – 1996) & Gen Z (1997 – 2012)

The generations that accommodate technological advancements willingly and respond positively to the progress of science and what it offers. These include medical, mechanical, bio-tech, infotech, communications, electronics, and various other technologies. Shifting from watching commercials in between television shows to being heavy consumers of ad-free streaming platforms. Experiencing the rise of social media and finding themselves dealing with major lifestyle and behavioral changes. For some reason, always in a rush.

3. Gen Alpha (2012 – present)

Also called the Glass Generation. These kids are the culmination of all our forerunners. Born in a digital environment. Proficient. Technically able. Skilled. The vast sea of knowledge available at their fingertips allows them to learn and explore 21st-century essentials like programming, coding, and robotics. The awareness of current and global occurrences through child-friendly content available on the internet. Nonetheless, their distance from fundamental practices is troubling. Stuck to screens, the onset of social isolation, physical discomfort that can lead to myopia (short-sightedness), lethargy, and other mental effects cannot be denied. Largely, the effect that social media has on their personalities might affect the way they practice Islam.

Embracing Technology

Every technology introduced, every innovation created has its fair share of advantages and disadvantages. It is up to us to use technology in ways that brings us closer to Allah and ourselves.

For kids, parental preferences and screen time controls are measures that can be helpful. Reconnect generations so they learn and value what our elders do. Islamic habits that take our culture forward won’t be available anywhere on any device.

For millennials like us, take a step back and breathe. Put away devices and embrace your family. Have conversations. Listen and share. Memories and teachings will last forever.

Like the Prophet ﷺ says:

مَا نَحَلَ وَالِدٌ وَلَدًا مِنْ نَحْلٍ أَفْضَلَ مِنْ أَدَبٍ حَسَنٍ

There is no gift that a father gives his son more virtuous than good manners.

[Jami` at-Tirmidhi 1952]

For our un-tech adults, introduce them to online sermons and zoom sessions for Islamic discourses. Let them adapt to e-books, reconnect with friends through social media platforms, download Muslim-friendly apps that explore historical and Islamic-rich content. Track personal salah times and create a routine for your Quran Khatam, get prompts on the app, while practicing it in the real world!

Seeking knowledge requires patience. Recite and memorize the Quran together. Pray salah together. Share stories and enrich their minds with the bounties of the past and present that Allah has bestowed upon us.

While the number of digital devices increase in your house, decrease the distance of the hearts and let the generations mingle to learn from each other.