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When you give an Irishman an iPad

| Monday, April 8, 2019

March 17 is a day most people highlight on their calendar. It’s a day to celebrate a great saint, an honorable heritage, a beautiful country and, simply, a reason to turn anything and everything green. I’m Irish and only Irish, and green just so happens to be my favorite color, so you won’t hear me complaining. I recently celebrated St. Patrick’s Day on the Emerald Isle. With the majority of my family living in Ireland, it’s a place I’ve always called home.

During this visit, I noticed not much had changed since the year before except for the addition of one particular item – an iPad. Grandad was recently gifted an iPad, and the family didn’t know how this piece of modern technology would be received. After all, Grandad thought technology was only a fad. To our surprise, the iPad was a huge hit. He’s even been quoted to say (read in an Irish brogue) “This piece of equipment is worth a million dollars!”

So, why does Grandad think an iPad is worth a million dollars? YouTube. All it took to get him hooked on the iPad was YouTube. He could now watch the countless sporting events he grew up only experiencing by listening to the radio. He could now learn more about the places around the world he’d only ever heard of thanks to National Geographic. He could now relive his time as a fisherman off the north coast of Ireland by watching commercial fishing videos. The list goes on.

Let’s use a hypothetical situation here – you’re studying abroad for the semester and for whatever reason you’re unable to stream the Notre Dame football games. Sad, I know. Week after week, you follow the games via live tweets. Once you return to campus, you binge watch the entire season’s video footage and relive the excitement you’d only previously been able to read in 280 characters or less. The joy, the excitement, the memories relived are priceless.

This is the joy I watched Grandad experience. This piece of technology was new and I’m so glad I got to experience those moments with him. Grandad turned 88 on St. Patrick’s Day and is as sharp as ever. Nothing — I mean nothing — gets past him. Let’s not talk about the day I accidentally took his iPad charger instead of my own (oops).   

Technology is something I admittedly have taken for granted. I, like many, carry it with me most hours of the day. What varies from person to person is how we use this gift of technology and we must pause to ask ourselves if we’re actually using it for the greater good.

Apple recently launched the Screen Time function which brings to reality the sheer amount of hours we spend on our phones each day. I don’t know about you, but that number continues to catch me by surprise. Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you to use your phone less. Instead, I’d like to suggest a different way to spend those screen time hours.

Throughout the Lenten season, Campus Ministry has challenged campus to not fast from technology, but rather, use the gift of technology to strengthen your prayer life. Each week day on Instagram, @NDMinistry has shared a thought-provoking question, reflection or call to action. If you haven’t yet seen these posts, you’re missing out. Not on Instagram? Download the Hallow app, which offers guided prayers and meditations. Or better yet, use both!

Let’s not forget that technology is a gift and can even be used to help us pray. Could you imagine St. Patrick’s screen time hours if he used a phone to pray? “In a single day I have said as many as a hundred prayers, and in the night almost as many,” he once said.

For your entertainment, in the middle of writing this column, my phone rang. To my surprise, it was Grandad accidentally FaceTiming me while searching for the YouTube app. I shared with him that I was currently writing an column to which he responded, “Don’t you dare write about me!” Little does he know, he was, in fact, the subject matter of this column. A happy accident? I’d like to believe so. Oh, also, please don’t send him this — I may lose my “favorite grandchild” status.

Danielle Collins serves in Campus Ministry as the associate director of communications and can be reached at [email protected]. Learn more about Campus Ministry at CampusMinistry.nd.edu.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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