The next digital generation, by David Hunt
Baby Hunt is 4 months old and he has mastered rolling. We watch with bated breath for the roll to become a crawl and then it can’t be too long before he is taking those first few steps. However, my money is on the swipe. He is already fascinated by the iPad and whilst he hasn’t worked out the gestures, he is interacting.
How do I feel about this? We are all inclined to look back at our youth with nostalgia. Summers spent running through fields, playing football with your friends, owning Mayfair & Park Lane – good honest fun. And before that, I fondly remember pop-up books, they were much more fun than the traditional types. They made the reading experience interactive & engaging, they maintained my interest (I’m told). Do I really mind if Baby H learns to read via an iPad as oppose to the traditional alternative? Whilst he will never posses the same fondness for physical books, it doesn’t guarantee he will love literature any less – perhaps the experience will enhance the stories, perhaps his love of literature will be greater?
But where does it stop; will his first drawings be with crayons or PaintPro? will he kick his first football virtually or in the park? will he learn to play the piano online or at school? I suspect it will be dictated by the experience. PaintPro will never be as much fun as the real thing, but perhaps it is easier for the parents – is the decision the parent’s rather than the child’s? Is this any different to when I was growing up? I could happily play FIFA on the NES, but would much rather be in the park with my Dad.
For me, the decisive factor is experience. I sincerely hope that human, real interactions will always have the competitive edge. But as with everything it comes down to time, energy and passion. It is our responsibility to ensure that Baby H enjoys reading rather than watching, that he prefers painting & craft to image manipulation, that he rather plays with his friends in the park than online.
Ultimately, as we are quickly learning as new parents, it is down to compromise. Maybe Baby H can use PaintPro to manipulate his own paintings and create something far better than we ever dreamed. Maybe the educational apps will enhance the learning experience with a more diverse approach. Maybe he’s on the first steps to harnessing the overwhelming information resource that is the Internet. Maybe with diversity, innovation and energy, it is simply a better experience.