How Many High-Tech Devices Does One Household Need?

Photographer: Salvatore Vuono,

Sometimes I think I am the only one with an addiction to high-tech devices, but then I look around and notice all of the other people consumed by their cell phones, laptops, blackberries, bluetooths and anything else that can be described as high-tech. It used to be that you were unaware of all the electrical toys one had until you visited their home where you could see the shrines they had created to their toys. Now we all carry them around with us whereever we go and claim that we “need” them.

Wow, how the world has changed, and I am no exception.

It has gotten to the point in my life where I had to go out and purchase a larger purse, which was extremely hard for me to do. I have always been the girl with a tiny purse even when big purses were in style (as they are now) because I have refused to carry around a bunch of junk everywhere I go. Even when my babies were little I hated carrying a diaper bag so I would grab a single diaper and a small pack of baby wipes and leave the bag at home. It’s the same thing with purse–I have my chapstick, sunglasses, keys and wallet, what else do you need? Oh yah that’s right, now I carry around my cell phone, bluetooth, flash drive, kindle, and camera (even though my cell has a camera and video camera), which is why I needed to get a larger purse.

If I didn’t already have enough items to carry around in my purse, now I am adding to the list of needed devices–here I go with my addiction. 🙂 As I sit and wait for my husband and his friends to join me for lunch, I have to admit that I am longing for the iPad 2 which I just recently starting drooling over. Even though I have stated in the past that I have no need for an iPad because my iPhone and laptop are sufficient, with each passing moment I continue to come up with more and more reasons I should own one. Right now I am adding to the list that it would be so much easier to type out this post out on an iPad rather than on my iPhone as I sit in a restaurant and unlike my laptop, I would obviously have the iPad in my new larger purse.

On the flip side, I am beginning to wonder if anyone can accurately say how many techie devices they have in their homes and do we really “need” them all?

In order to answer my own question I began making a list of all of mine (not just me, but total household including kids stuff) and it frightened me just a little. Let’s see–4 iPhones, 5 ipods, 1 palm pilot, 2 Kindles, 2 other cell phones, 2 Macbooks, 2 other laptops, 5 MP3 players, a PSP, a Gameboy, multiple other hand-held games, and an unknown number flash drives. I know I could have kept going but along with scaring myself with this list, I was starting to bore myself as well. But seriously–do we really need that many techie gadgets?

Good question–just taking the list above, how many of these electronics are actually NEEDED?

iPhone, four to be exact. Many people would say that they completely understand the need for a cell phone but they think an iPhone is a waste of money, and four would be an even greater waste. I would agree that four is way to many but just to be clear we are only using two (one for me and one for my husband) and the other two will end up being sold on eBay when we get the time. Now I would have to say that I disagree wholeheartedly with an iPhone being a waste of money. My iPhone is so much more than a cell phone–I can do just about anything on it that I can do on my laptop while on the go. With all of this in mind I would say that 2 of the iPhones are definitely on the list of needs.

5 iPods. With the aforementioned iPhones do we really need that many iPods? Yes, absolutely. We have four children–four children that would be constantly fighting over the one or two iPods if that was all we had. By giving them each their own, everyone is happy, especially mom and dad. What about the 5th iPod, well I know I could put all of my music on my iPhone but really if I want to go to go for a run while listening to music, I would much rather strap my light weight ipod onto my arm than my heavier iPhone. And this iPod is the “old-old” nano style from about 5 years ago but it still works great.

Palm Pilot. This is my husband’s so I probably am not going to defend this device as fairly as I would all of my “needed” electronics. However while I will say his iPhone generally does everything he used to use his palm pilot for there are probably a few windows programs which he can only use on his palm pilot that will not function on his iPhone. Also I think he likes to keep work separate from personal, and this is his way of segregating the two. So is it needed, probably.

2 Kindles. Like the iPhones, my husband and I both need (there’s that word again) our own. Originally I received mine as a birthday gift, Jeff loved it so much that every time I went to pick it up and read, he already had it in his hand–thus the reason for two. You may be thinking why not just use the kindle app on your iPhone–well the kindle is light, easy to hold with either hand, has an incredibly long battery life and a no glare screen. Seriously I can come up with all kinds of excuses why this is a necessary gadget in my life. I already love to read, this just enhances it.

2 other cell phones. We have four children, two of which are preteens, that should be enough said for speaking on their validity in our lives. The cool thing about this is that we actually found these old flip-phones in a box in the garage one day. They were our pre-iPhone cell phones. No qwerty keyboard, no touch screen, etc. but we don’t need that as you’ll see. Turns out that they were compatible with our current cell phone carrier. So we took them down and added them to our family plan by getting a new SIM card. So for $9/month extra, we have  two phones that the kids can use if needed though they still belong to us (and we let them know it). By the way, we did not have to renew our cell phone contract because we didn’t have to purchase a phone–we already had them. Also, we ported over our home phone line to one of the cell phones so we were able to cancel our $35/month or so home phone bill.

2 Macbooks. This is also an easy one to tack onto the needs list, one for me, and one for my husband. If that was not enough said, then let me elaborate by saying that Jeff has “ruined” his Macbook in my opinion by installing windows on it. Apparently he needs it for work. I am an apply purist and every time I open up his Macbook and see a Start button I sigh and get up to go find my Macbook where I know I will not be disappointed. 😉 (Jeff’s note: Technically I dual-boot so I have Windows 7 AND Mac OS X and I can choose at boot time. Mac is great for graphics, music and iTunes, but working with files is a pain! For the record I’m a Linux geek. Plus it’s free.)

2 Other laptops. Once again I can simply chalk this up to a need based on the four children. We use them instead of desktop PCs. Saves on space and the kids use them for their homework. So it’s nice to let the kids take it with us on trips if needed. Plus we have it set up with their own individual login accounts. No messing with each other’s stuff and it’s set with parental restrictions as well.

5 mp3 players. Ok now I think I am getting somewhere, here is soming I do not think we need. Originally we had all of these because of the kids and their lack of iPods, but now that they all have iPods, they do not use their MP3 players. That is four devices I can rid our lives of. The fifth, is my husbands and like my ipod that I keep around for personal use, I think he will probably keep his around as well. But still I have found high-tech devices I can rid our home of.

PSP, Gameboy, and other handheld games. Since I have no personal ties to these I could easily just say they are not needed. However if I asked our children their opinion, they would most likely come up with a hundred reasons why they are needed. For now I will just leave these alone and not list them on the needed list or the toss list. However we do have them put away for the time being. The weather is getting nice and there is no reason they should be playing on these when they could be outside. This was further reinforced for me last night as I was at a triple-A professional baseball game and there was a kid about 6-7 years old sitting in front of us. Great seats on the first base line and he was playing with a Gameboy. Now I understand that it’s hard for some younger children to pay attention for nine innings but really this is a very kid-friendly stadium with lots to do. Why bring the Gameboy? Just my opinion…

Flash drives, can you really have too many? We all from time to time have a need to save a file or backup data and take it to another location. If we were to only own one flash drive per person, inevitably someone’s flash drive would not be around when needed. That being said, I will keep the multiple flash drives on the needed list.

Although I am still a bit conflicted over the sheer amount of devices we own as a family, I am not surprised by my ability to not only justify why they are needed but to also justify why an additional item such as an iPad is needed. This seriously may be a lost cause.

Maybe not, I may have a solution to at the very least control our family’s addiction (more specifically my addiction). Rather than fearing the continued growth of needed items, I think I will change my way of thinking. As I find more  and more items which our family “needs”, I will also find items that our family no longer needs. Kinda a trading up program. You see, we have two iPhones that are going unused as well as four MP3 players, so if I am going to add an iPad to the list of high-tech devices I need to rid our life of an equal amount. Problem solved. 🙂



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