Born and raised surrounded by screens

My amazing wife and I have three beautiful, creative, messy kids.  Our son is (GASP) 17, middle daughter 15, and baby girl is 5.  I find it incredibly interesting to observe (from a socio-digital experience perspective) how the technology surrounding them has shaped their personalities and behaviors.  You know, the screens…

When our oldest (Devin) was born in 1997, we didn’t yet have a computer in the home.  As newlyweds, we were pinching pennies and my first real job wasn’t exactly flooding us with income.  When we moved into our second home in Atlanta in 1999, I received a raise and was able to have work pay for an ISDN line to our home.  ISDN was a very early “high-speed” Internet solution to the home, really only about 2-3X the speed of dial-up (main benefit was no “dial-beep-beep-boop-KERRR-KERRR-KERRR”).  We had a computer always on the Internet at that point, and Devin began to interact with it quite a bit.

By the time our daughter Dylan was old enough to notice in 2000, I had my first laptop in the home and have never turned back.  She was accustomed from the get-go to having the screen in her lap (or mommie’s lap), not just tethered to the wall connected to a big, heavy monitor.  This made her interactions much more frequent and longer.

With our youngest, born in 2009, she had an iPad in her hands as soon as she could hold it (before the age of one).  Judge if you’d like – Sarah Kate is incredibly bright and was reading before she turned three, some of which I credit to her daily use of the iPad and the plethora of educational apps.  She assumes all screens can be touched and should be smart.  She has never ONCE asked for help accomplishing a task on the iPad, iPhone, any device.  She took to my Macbook like *that* (snaps fingers) and has no problem interfacing with the keyboard or trackpad, opening new windows, or any other tasks.

It is fascinating to see how these kids expectations are set by the technology they are born into.  I heard a quote a few months back at a conference: “kids born today will probably never learn to drive a car the way we think of driving a car.”  Wow.  How have your kids reacted to the shifts in technology through their childhoods?


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