Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Ipod Touch and the under two market-pros and cons

I was going to blog further about Haiti today, but then got to thinking about something I did the other day and wanted to tell you all about it: I bought my grandson an Ipod Touch. What is so remarkable about that? The fact that my grandson, Ethan, is only one year and ten months old

Even the Apple sales woman was somewhat taken aback. But there he was yesterday afternoon happily playing away with several different Apps, his small fingers flicking across the screen manipulating one game after another: Elmo in one, a series of toy trains in another, instinctively interacting with his world of the future that is already here.

That fact is that for several weeks Ethan has already been playing with a couple of Apps on his father's Iphone.

But won't it corrupt his spirit? Digitize his soul before he has learns to explore the real world out there on his side of the Ipod screen? Of course, I had a serious conversation with my son and daughter-in-law before I made the move. And they are as concerned about their childrens' upbringing as any parents could be: No TV violence allowed.

And the Brave New Digital World can be frightening. This past New Years for instance, we were at dinner in our hotel, and at the table next to us was a family of five, two young children, probably three and five, and three adults. The three adults were all on their mobiles, probably exchanging New Years greetings with friends on the other side of the world. And the two children? They each had their own small DVD readers or laptops in front of them on the table, each one viewing a different Disney-like video. Again, they were all sitting around the same table--"together"--but they were also all off in their own little worlds.

Not good, we agree.

And I would hope that limits will be put on his Ipoding.

On the other hand, that is the world that my grandson already inhabits. And we are descending ever deeper into that digitized world at an astonishing rate, much faster than most of us realize. Think of the glut of notepads and tablets and e-book readers and smart phones that are now the hottest selling items in our stores, economic crisis or not. Think of bing and twitter and plaxo and Facebook. Ask yourself how many of those items you had even heard about a couple of years ago. Now ask yourself what will be on the market two years from now.

But if I can give my grandson the tools he needs to inhabit that new world, why not? Those Apps he is already playing with could, of course, turn him into some kind of digital vegetable --on the other hand, properly used, they can also teach him mathematics and spelling and geography and logic, and that's just the threshold. I also bought an Ipod for his seven year old sister which she has no problem mastering. She's had her own computer for years. His father, a film maker, is himself exploring the limits of digital video and editing and blogging his results. My other son, seventeen, is now coming home from school in Paris to log on to MIT's site and follow a (free) series of lectures on calculus. He is also in daily contact via Facebook with twenty or thirty other young people around the world who are going to be attending the same university beginning next September. But why wait til then to get to know each other and exchange ideas?

In other words, no one knows where this revolution is headed. Not even the people caught up in it. It's like a surfer trying to ride a tsunami. Of course, we have the choice not to join in this world. But I figure that my grandson is already there.

Which is why I bought him his Ipod Touch.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting comentary.! Hannah asked me for an ipod for her birthday and i gave her one but not the ipod touch she wanted. Talked to Vivi about it and he said i should have given her an ipod touch. My reasoning was that it cost 200 euros and if i gave in to that i would have to buy her a car before she is fifteen. I am against spoiling children. But now....reconsidering