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“What are you going to do about it, huh? What would an intellectual do? What would Plato do?”

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It’s the witching hour, 5.45. You’ve just got home. The kids are all fighting with each other. And with you. (Or perhaps you only have two kids. You can’t remember, and anyway it seems like more than two the way they are carrying on.) You’re trying to finish cooking. You’re shouting at one of them about their homework, but you can’t remember which one or why. The phone’s ringing.

Can I play with your phone?

Naturally, you want to do the right thing. The intellectual thing. The ethical thing. Just like Kevin Kline in A Fish Called Wanda.

Fortunately, Plato had something to say about this – well, sort of. He had something to say about writing, and what he had to say was that writing wasn’t a very good thing. He said that once you learnt to write, you would stop remembering things properly; and that if you just read you wouldn’t have proper conversations with people and wouldn’t find out what they really meant.

So you might think that at 5.45 in the afternoon in Athens, Mr and Mrs Plato would have been tough and principled:

Dad, can I play with the scratchy wax-tablet and the sharpened stick?

No. [Plato Senior gives Plato Junior a lecture about the evils of modern technology.]

Or maybe not.  Everything that Plato “said” about writing was written down. If he had stuck to his principles, we would know almost nothing about him. The chances are he knew writing wasn’t so bad after all.

And maybe he let his kids play with the wax tablets when he wasn’t using them.

But if only he had had some way of stopping them after 20 minutes like he said he would. If only he didn’t have to keep looking at the oven-timer to check whether they were over time. Who could have helped him?


Kidslox is the only cross-platform parental controls solution and we are improving it all the time. iOS and Android are in the stores now. The native Mac and PC apps are coming shortly. To be followed by the version for wax tablets.

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