I was born on the cusp of the Millennial generation. While I mostly identify with the values that M’s embrace, such as how family and food are perceived and an overall optimism for life with a healthy distrust of big corporations and government (or at least their general regard for the average American (or lack thereof in favor of the average American’s dollar)), I also know that I’m a bit in that in-between generation, where I don’t really identify with X’ers and their mentalities, but I do remember what life was like when computer technology, and internet, were just beginning.
I remember having to use DOS prompts, and black screens with green letters. And dot matrix printers. I wasn’t exposed to punch cards, thank goodness, but I remember the original floppies, then the smaller, not-so-floppy floppies. I remember using Telnet before internet really got going.
I remember when we first got email. I remember building websites for people in high school, using cutting edge new software like Dreamweaver. And I remember buying my very first cell phone when I turned 20. And then buying my first smartphone when I was closer to 30.
And then there’s Aria. Not even two years old yet, and she knows how to steal my phone, navigate to the screen with the app that launches kids mode, and open up the games she knows she likes. And close the games when she grows tired of them, so that she can open another.
Or on her grandparents’ computer, she knows how to get to the games or songs she wants to enjoy, understands how the “x” close buttons work, and knows which buttons to push to move to the next screen, or how to complete the task that the game wants her to complete. And how to fend off her four year old cousin who is attempting to do the exact same thing at the exact same time, but with a different opinion of which songs or games to enjoy. I hear it’s quite the battle.
Or she can drag letters across her father’s tablet to complete a word.
Eric and I watched as she opened a game where a monkey had to collect coins and she knew exactly where to tap to make him collect the pennies and then deposit them to get a nickel, and so forth.
It’s just so crazy. She’s growing up in an entirely different world, and technology is part of everyday life so much so that a baby can master it. It makes it even more important for us to monitor how and how often she uses it, and ensure that she’s getting educational value out of the games she plays, and to teach her when and where it’s appropriate to use it. I sincerely hope she learns a proper respect for technology, both with safety, but also with how it can both improve and limit social interaction, and that nothing can replace the experiences of the great outdoors and playing with her cousins. So many kids struggle with these things these days, because technology is so addictive and widely accessible. I know that when I’m with Aria outside I only get out my phone to take pictures of her, which I won’t share until later, and if she sees it and wants to play on the phone I tell her it’s an “indoor only” toy, to try and help her separate the two worlds. But I also realize that as she grows up it’s going to become harder and technology is just going to keep getting “better” and more difficult to separate from everyday life and social interactions.
For now, however, it truly is fascinating to see what my little tot is able to accomplish all by herself.