Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Internet Generation, Age 21 Months

Gretchen knows how to use an iPhone.

Well, "use" is somewhat generous. She knows how to take Marina's iphone (I don't have an iphone, but my nanny does), push the "ipod" button with her fat little finger, then press the icon that will start her cherished "Three Little Pigs" video, which Marina uploaded for her. Then she re-orients the iphone horizontally, and chortles contentedly as the familiar music begins to play.

I think Gretchen's a genius. Andy thinks this is just another example of what any kid can do who is properly incentivized.

Who hasn't told that old joke to their children: "When I was a kid, I walked to school uphill, both ways, in the snow, barefoot, etc. etc.?" But if we really wanted to impress upon our kids what an impoverished childhood we had, we would say, "When we were kids, we couldn't watch movies on our cell phones! There were no cell phones! No internet! No computers! No TiVo or DVD players! All we had were three channels of television, and if we didn't like what was on, we read a book!"

It stuns me sometimes, the technological gap between my childhood and that of my kids. It's greater than the gap between my childhood and my mother's childhood for sure, and maybe even greater than that between my childhood and my grandparents' childhood. And I guess what stuns me the most is that you would think there would be more of a disconnect between us and our kids because of it, a fundamental lack of understanding. But it's not that way. Because now we take those technological advancements just as much for granted as they do. Over the course of a few short years, our world was exponentially expanded, old boundaries exploded, old limits exceeded, and even though our childhood selves would view our impressive collection of gadgets as the stuff of science fiction, we just took it all in stride.

Hmmmm. Maybe Gretchen isn't the impressive one after all.

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