This is a cautionary tale about relying on technology to replace human relationships.
Technology plays an important role in the lives of the Hadley family. They have a Happylife Home, which does pretty much does everything for you.
They walked down the hall of their soundproofed Happylife Home, which had cost them thirty thousand dollars installed, this house which clothed and fed and rocked them to sleep and played and sang and was good to them.
It’s a little creepy, but the strangest part is the nursery. The nursery can read a child’s thoughts and turn them into a sort of virtual reality on the walls. It’s also huge, “forty feet across by forty feet long and thirty feet high” and extremely expensive, costing “half again as much as the rest of the house.” Yikes!
Overindulgent parents are not quite the problem here. Mr. Hadley never quite seems comfortable with the nursery, despite the fact that he says that nothing is too good for the children. Yet he is constantly saying that he wants to put down limits for the kids and lock them out of the nursery, and it never quite works because they always throw a fit or get back in. They are unnaturally attached to this nursery.
Mrs. Hadley also is uncomfortable with the house. She feels as if she is being replaced, especially in her duties as a mother. She realizes that a house cannot hug a child or tell it a bedtime story. The psychologist that the Hadleys bring in when the nursery begins to frighten them explains to them that they should start to be concerned.
You've let this room and this house replace you and your wife in your children's affections. This room is their mother and father, far more important in their lives than their real parents.
The house itself can draw a bath and make toast, and take care of all of the household functions, and the nursery entertains the children. What then do the people do? Have they lost all connection to each other? Have the parents forgotten to parent?
In the end, the consequences of this lack of connection are drastic. The children end up murdering their parents. The parents had a premonition of this when they saw the animals in the veldt scene in the nursery. They were afraid, especially Mr. Hadley, to see their children thinking of so much death. It turns out they should have been afraid. They should have paid more attention to what it really meant.
The moral of the story is clear. You cannot rely so much on technology that you forgot your humanity. The penalties for relying on technology are present in our modern world too. We may not be to the point that we can project an African veldt on our wall with our mind, but we do need to be careful about how far we go in overlying on technology to limit our relationships with others. It is through our relationships with others that we truly experience life.