Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Computer Kids

I don't get much of a look in with the computer these days. My two and a half year old son has decided it's his cam-pooter. It astonishes me that he can successfully use the mouse and keyboard to navigate his way around and play whatever game he wants to. I've even found him reclining in my chair with his feet on the desk watching cartoons he's found on iplayer - a tiny version of the teenager he is destined to become.

Is it really so astonishing though that our children are savvy with technology?

As humans we have an incredible ability to adapt to our environment, with thriving populations in all but the most inhospitable of conditions. We adapt, we survive, we thrive.

My children have all their basic needs taken care of. They do not need to worry about finding food or shelter. The environment they are adapting to is one which is rich in technology. Even as tiny babies they seemed to have an instinctive knowledge that the remote control operates the television. They are immersed in a world where this is how it is. This is normal. Point a small plastic thing (also good to chew) at a larger distant thing - something happens. They are not fazed by this. They accept it. They accommodate this fact into their own construct of reality. Their reality is intricately connected to the technology they are exposed to.

I have not quite got to grips with smart phones yet but my four year old will quickly find and explore any apps that interest her. Her little brother isn't far behind her - with a particular interest in Angry Birds.

My mum does amazingly well in terms of what she can do with a computer (which is brilliant given that she still can't fathom how to use Sky TV). However, she is inhibited by worries that she might break something or do something wrong. Children are not burdened by such concerns. They are never afraid to have a go and can quickly translate skills learned on one device to another.

How adept my youngsters are with technology contrasts with what I feel is a distinct lack of online presence amongst many of my peers. The reason for this may be that my peers have not got to grips with the technology or it may be a reflection of my own inadequacy in knowing how to find them in their own little corner of the web.

I do wonder why the same rules of adaptability do not seem to work to the advantage of adults trying to master technology. Do we lose the ability to adapt as we age or is it just that we become much better at controlling our environments so there is less requirement to adapt. I suspect the latter, which explains why I still do not own a Smart phone (or ipad) and that the things I do on my computer now are essentially the same as I have been doing since I first came into possession of the Mac that dominates the desk in my office.

At least I do know that if I ever need a little bit of help with anything high-tech, I can always ask my kids!

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