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Technology in MG

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I tried to see if this topic existed in MG, but I only found a similar topic in YA, where the discussion is a little different.  :new

Do you think it's possible to write a MG contemporary novel without including specific references to technology? I'd like to avoid dating the book, and I think technology might be easier to avoid in this younger age group then in YA. Or do you feel that the lack of technology will be noticeable to the point where the readers will have a harder time relating to the story?
#1 - October 02, 2017, 04:00 PM

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Assuming it's a contemporary novel with human characters, and they're not in an area where there's no reception for the entire novel, I think avoiding technology would be really hard. I don't think avoiding it is any easier in MG than in YA. We hear about schools where every kid gets a Chromebook, for example. Where kids trace events like the Iditerod online as a class project. In some areas of the country, every sixth grader has a phone in their back pocket, or so I'm told. MG-ers do not know a time before the internet. But you don't have to date your book by getting specific. You may need a computer or tablet and a search engine, but you don't need to name Google, for example. You can have kids connect online by going to a site and sending messages or photos, but I wouldn't name a real site, which could be SO passe by the time a book would hit print. I think there are ways to include technology in general without getting into specifics that would date the book.

#2 - October 02, 2017, 07:11 PM
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As someone in an area where every sixth grader has a phone, I agree with Marcia. I don't know a kid who doesn't play some kind of video media. But regionalisms do exist and money is a factor. We bought a WII U this year, after they went off the market and after upgrading from a TV that still had a built in VCR and redoing the entire room the new system would be in.  But even though my kids didn't have this stuff, all of their friends did and they knew how to play various games. You'd have to be pretty isolated to be unaware of the tech.

That said, leaving out the trademarked names and making up you own can be great for a story.
#3 - October 02, 2017, 08:09 PM

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I think balance is key. In my latest MG that takes place in modern day, middle class Miami, the kids def. have access to phones and computers, and use them, but that's not what the story is about. So, while I may have my main character use a computer in the library, or check to see if her bff sent her a text, technology is not the focus of the story, so it is mentioned in passing, but not really focused on, and like others have mentioned, no specific brands, web sites or search engines etc. are mentioned. 
#4 - October 03, 2017, 12:22 PM
ROYALLY ENTITLED (inspirational/historical YA) and OOPS-A-DAISY (humorous MG) out now.  http://www.melodydelgado.com/

I tried to see if this topic existed in MG, but I only found a similar topic in YA, where the discussion is a little different.  :new

Do you think it's possible to write a MG contemporary novel without including specific references to technology? I'd like to avoid dating the book, and I think technology might be easier to avoid in this younger age group then in YA. Or do you feel that the lack of technology will be noticeable to the point where the readers will have a harder time relating to the story?

Here is perhaps a useful article to refer to: http://www.streettech.com/bcp/BCPgraf/Manifestos/transreal.htm

In this he talks about the current convergence of high technology and the present, to the point where it no longer makes any sense for there to even really be a distinction.

It's useful if you're curious about technology in contemporary fiction.

I actually make an explicit point in including current social dynamics and technology in my work, although changing certain names to avoid trademark issues. (Although I'm a believer in free software.)
#5 - October 03, 2017, 03:17 PM

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Thank you guys for the helpful suggestions. I'll keep the technology to a minimum and avoid any specific names.
#6 - October 03, 2017, 04:42 PM

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To be fair, we should state that there can be good reason for including technology and using brand names. It's really about what serves your story.
#7 - October 03, 2017, 08:47 PM

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To be fair, we should state that there can be good reason for including technology and using brand names. It's really about what serves your story.
I'm sure there are plenty of contemporary stories where technology is central to the plot, or the characters, that's not the case for the story I'm trying to tell. I'd love to avoid technology altogether, but I think that's probably unrealistic...

#8 - October 04, 2017, 10:45 AM

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There is still a lot that goes on outside of technology. Like Melody said, it all depends on where the story happens. If it happens mostly playing baseball, not much tech!
#9 - October 05, 2017, 08:17 AM
Keith McGowan, www.keithbooks.com

It's almost impossible to get around kids having cell phones to use in case of emergency (I'm always inventing ways to destroy them). Other than that, I sometimes have characters search for information online. For specific brands, I create something similar with a different name which allows me to invent the rules  ;D
#10 - October 06, 2017, 05:57 AM

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