Tis’ the season to be (over indulgent, greedy emotionally unavailable and) jolly. Fa la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la.

Sorry if I sound like a complete Scrooge, but it’s true, demands get more and more expensive with each passing year. My nieces, aged between 15 and 5 are all demanding more and more expensive gifts with each passing year.

When I was their age, my parents, although comfortable, were never ‘rich’. My 13th Birthday, which is New Years Day, went completely barren of gifts, because a week earlier, I had been given a £1000 laptop. Though, it did come with some ties and clauses.

I was given the laptop because I’m left handed, and my handwriting was truly terrible, and my teachers and the examining board said they were willing to accept my work if it was typed and printed, and it would be marked in the same way as hand written. That was clause 1. It had to be used for school as well as leisure.

Clause 2, was that it was inspected weekly, checking on my cookies, internet history and the programs I was using.

Clause 3, which was painful to crack, was that Monday to Friday, I could only use it from 6am – 9pm, Saturday and Sunday 6am – 12pm. When I got to actually having to knuckle down on my work, the restrictions were taken off, but clauses 1 and 2 remained in place until I was 17.

That, although expensive, was a thoughtful, meaningful gift, because it allowed me to excel in my work because people could read it. It also allowed me to do my coursework wherever and whenever I liked, I could literally be sat on a bus and just fire up the laptop and get some work done. Making the most of what would have been essentially wasted time.

These days, designer watches, expensive mobile phones, games consoles and ‘slag wellies’ are the must haves. And parents are giving them without a thought for something that could actually be useful.

Christmas for teens is a nightmare, are they old enough for this? Are they too young for that? With education standards dropping, and it’s not the teachers fault, teenagers are at their prime to learn, but in a manner, and time frame they like. I was terrible at History, I hated reading text books, but give me Encarta (I really am showing my age!), and my own time, and I would devour article after article.

We as adults should be trying to make the next generation better than our own, and PS4’s aren’t going to do it. Give them knowledge, and allow them to grow. We aren’t as simple as we were, but that must change because otherwise, we’re going to have a crisis on our hands where you can get a PhD in Call of Duty.

We’re well past text books, and Wikipedia has taken over, but the beauty of this is, you can learn in your own time, and read and read again to ensure that you understand.

So instead of taking the easy option, look at the pros and cons of a laptop, it may cost a little bit more, but it certainly will pay dividends!