The iPad Wars

Lane Igoudin

© Copyright 2022 by Lane Igoudin

Photo courtesy of Raw
Photo courtesy of Raw
I am a deeply engaged father of two teenage daughters: one just graduated high school, the other still has two more years to go. Over the last few years, I’ve been watching with amazement and trepidation their transformation from adorable kids into assertive young women, a challenging journey of growth for them, but also for my partner and me. In this story, I recount one such experience.

Someone called our daughter a ‘drama queen’ in Minecraft. She was playing on the server with an avatar, when the conversation turned to going somewhere. 

Going where exactly?” I ask. 

He didn’t say.” 

How do you know it was a ‘he’?”

I don’t know,” Linda shrugs. “It’s an avatar, duh…”

How long have the two of you been talking?”

She wrinkles her smooth forehead, “A week, maybe two? He liked me – he said so – he said my profile picture is really cute. So he wanted to go someplace in the forest, but I said bye, and he called me a drama queen. What is a drama queen, Pappy?”
Can I see your profile?” I ask. I had no idea you can have conversations with strangers on something as innocuous as Minecraft.

Linda hands me her iPad and tucks a long lock of hair behind her ear, a graceful, and at the same time, more womanly, more calibrated gesture than I remember.

I click on her profile picture – her pretty, creamy face, brown hair, clearly a teen. The avatar had to have known that.
There’s not much information in her profile, nothing that leads straight to her, to this house, to this bedroom, but, I notice, Linda posted her age as 14. She’s not. She is 11. Why on Earth did she want to pass for an older girl? Why list your age at all? The implications are unnerving, to say the least.

This is getting out of hand, Linda. You can keep the iPad, but I don’t think you should have access to the WiFi anymore.”

But I need it, I need the WiFi! How am I supposed to play Minecraft without other people?” Linda exhales with frustration, jerkingrking up her palms at the obvious: “It’s bo-ring!”

To me, it’s a signal that 1. her iPad is taken for granted, 2. her Minecraft is taken for granted, and 3. she can’t think of other ways to entertain herself except chatting with strangers.

You don’t have to agree with me, Linda, but it’s for your own good,” I say. “You can still use it, but no Internet for now.” So I go ahead and suppress the WiFi on her iPad.

Or so I think.

I start to notice that the power strip to the router, turned off every night, would mysteriously turn itself back on before dawn. 
Next, the iPad vanishes. Linda swears she has no idea where it might be. She keeps saying so for three days straight.
Having it disappear, I figure, is convenient. Disappeared, it can provide hours of fun when she is asleep. One telltale sign is dark circles under her eyes. 

Even more revealing is Linda’s nonplussed attitude about the loss: had she truly lost her iPad, she would’ve run crestfallen to us for help, or, even more likely, vociferously accuse her sister of stealing her beloved personal assistant device. Her nonchalance can only mean one thing. 

I ransack her whole room, pulling out drawers, rummaging through the T-shirts and jeans thrown haphazardly into the dresser. I even drag her full-size mattress off the bed and turn it upside down. 

It’s not here!” Linda yells angrily. 

Exhausted, I leave the room a complete disaster, the mattress on the floor. Linda shrugs, and the athlete that she is, pulls it back up on her bed by herself. Where is the goddamn iPad?

The next day, Linda’s remark “it’s not here” pops into my head. What did she mean by “not here”? 

I start one more time in her room, then stop, turn 180 degrees, and cross the hallway to the bathroom, inspect the drawers and corners; continue on to the dining room, circle the dining room table, lift each chair, and then, intuitively, decide to look under the table itself. There it is, hidden in the hollow opening of the table’s pedestal base – the silver iPad.
I remove it from Linda for a week.

The return comes with three conditions: no Internet access, no iPad in the bedroom overnight, and my knowledge of her iPad password so I could always check what’s going on.

Holding the iPad in her hands delicately like a holy relic, Linda accepts her partial loss of privileges without rancor. Every night after school now, she plays quietly the downloaded games and releases the iPad to me when it’s time to go to bed. She finally learned that having an electronic device is privilege, not a right. 

Or so I think until casting a casual glance at her adding new wings to a stylish house set in a verdant green lawn, I spot the WiFi bars pulsing at the top of the screen. She is not supposed to be on the Internet, I’d erased the WiFi router sign-in information, and now it has magically reappeared. 

I am no techie wiz, so this time, I consult the Internet and learn how to make the iPad “forget a network” for good.
I try it out while Linda is at school. It works! The WiFi connection is gone and stays gone. 

For a couple of days, Linda keeps playing Minecraft and Candy Crush like nothing happened. Then an email pops into my email in-box: “Your Apple ID password has been successfully reset.” 

Successfully, huh? I know I haven’t changed it. I can’t even remember what it is.

Linda is at her sports practice. I log into her iPad and then watch it log effortlessly into our WiFi router. Well, so much for the “forget a network” trick.

With the reset Apple ID, I discover, my daughter has opened her own Gmail account, started to communicate on FaceTime and iMessage, signed up for Facebook, minimum age be damned, and even posted some homespun videos on YouTube. While her browsing choices have been harmless – Minecraft videos, epic fails, and other such inanities – what I am staring at is a parallel life my 11-year-old has been leading behind her bedroom door. 

For an instant, I feel the ground slipping beneath my feet, while my head is flooded with worry, with questions. Why would she want this second life? Are we such oppressive, controlling parents? I certainly never thought so. What else has she been hiding? Is this the worse she’s done?

I begin to see that I won’t get any answers to any of this. But in the meantime, a more pressing question comes, which is what to do next – now that I know? Take it away from her once and for all? Threaten with consequences? 

Transcending my anger, I see that it’s not so much about who controls the iPad. It’s about a young person wanting to have a life of her own, while we, her parents, are afraid of the boundless, dangerous world waiting for her out there. We want her to develop a sense of caution before she plunges into it headlong, and these iPad repossessions and returns are just the tools to guide her.

Ultimately though, Linda is the one who’ll need to find her balance in the world, both real and virtual. She stands before it, young and inexperienced. We can only do our best to help. And part of it is going through this cycle as many times as it will take.

Lane Igoudin teaches English and linguistics at Los Angeles City College and blogs about mindfulness, spiritual growth, and fatherhood. Though he has published a few articles and essays, primarily on the websites dedicated to these subjects, as well as chapters in academic books in linguistics, he has not published any books of fiction or non-fiction. Not yet.  His website is

Contact Lane

(Unless you type the author's name
in the subject line of the message
we won't know where to send it.)

Book Case

Home Page

The Preservation Foundation, Inc., A Nonprofit Book Publisher