My daughter turned 2 last month and as any parent is, I am constantly amazed at all of the things she can do and understand and how that seems to grow exponentially each day. But what amazes me the most is how uber-aware she is of technology in her life and how different her childhood is from what mine was. Here are a few examples:
1. When we get into my car she immediately asks, “Mommy, you have your ipod?” She knows that all of her music is loaded on that little white box and if I leave it in the house, we cannot listen to her music. I have freed myself from CDs and have even created a playlist of her favorite songs so that I can quickly and easily get to the ones she wants to hear without causing a wreck. She is starting to show some interest in listening to some of Mommy’s songs so I am thinking of making a playlist of songs I like that are not inappropriate for her age.
2. We limit her television time and really only have 2 or 3 shows that she is allowed to watch, but rather than have our day dictated by the airing of the shows, we record them on Tivo and play them for her when it is appropriate. This has given her a very skewed vision of how TV works. She thinks all TVs work this way. This was clear when we went to the beach this summer and she asked to watch Dora. I told her it was not on the TV at that time and that there was no Tivo at the beach house. At that time, my then 18 month old looked at me, laughed out loud, and said “No Tivo? That’s silly!” It became the running joke of the vacation.
3. If I take out my laptop at home, which I try to do as little as possible, she immediately declares that she wants to play with Elmo. The Sesame Street web site is the only one we have really let her browse and she likes several of the games on the site. She has been able to play a few of them on her own for months now. While this may seem like a waste of time to some, it is one of the ways I have been able to determine her attention to things. She actually listens to the characters and clicks when they tell her to – not just randomly as she did when she first started to use the site.
I have provided these examples of my 21st century child to other adults, many of whom immediately roll their eyes and give the look that says I am ruining my child’s imagination by exposing her to these things. I disagree. I do read to her all the time and at 2 she can “read” most of her books back to me by memorizing all of the words on each page – word for word. She can also do 12-24 piece jigsaw puzzles by herself and has an active imagination. However, the technology in her life results in a different way of growing up. I limit her exposure to all of these things, but they are all a part of my life and have changed the way I interact with media. Why shouldn’t they be a part of her life?
Wow – what will her expectations be when she starts school? Will we be able to meet those expectations?