Like any doting grandparents, we love spending time with “our boys”, aged four-and-a-bit and sixteen months, but as they live in Sydney and we live in Adelaide it’s usually a few months between visits. I suppose I shouldn’t be, but I’m always surprised at how they’ve grown up since I last saw them. This time I just couldn’t believe the grasp that the four-year-old has on technology.
Now, I come from a generation that grew up without much technology. We didn’t even have television when I was my grandson’s present age. And even by the time I finished my education and went to work only big companies could afford computers which needed a climate-controlled room with access restricted to authorised technicians wearing white coats. There was no such thing as a personal computer, let alone a laptop or notebook. I always had a secretary to do my typing and I would have been well into my forties before I learned, reluctantly initially, to use a computer. While I was working I kept myself reasonably up-to-date but since I retired five years ago, I’ve got rather left behind.
Kids today of course, like my grandsons, start using technology almost from the day they’re born and there are so many products that just weren’t around even a few years ago. I’m thinking of things like iPhones, iPods, iPads, XBOXs, Wii, Wi-fi and so on, most of which I don’t have a clue about. Let’s face it, I even have trouble turning on the television!
But it’s all second nature to my grandson. He couldn’t wait to show me how to use his Dad’s iPad . He was able to demonstrate all the features like how to view photographs, play music and so on. He also knows full well how to order and download applications – fortunately, he also understands that he’s not allowed to and that he needs a password which has been withheld from him.
When it comes to games, he’s in his element and has hand-eye coordination that I envy. He keeps asking me to play with him but he’s so much better than me that I bore him. So far, I’ve destroyed the Batmobile in Lego Batman, lost Indiana Jone’s treasure and broken both Kung Fu Panda’s legs. I’ve now been banned before I do any more damage!
Friends of our age sometimes ask what we think of kids and computers. Well, I’m all in favour. Properly used with appropriate parental guidance the computer is a marvellous educational tool, while the ability to keep up with and use technology is an absolutely essential skill today. Goodness knows what the future will bring; the likely advances are beyond my imagination but the kids will have to cope and the best time to start is now.
Guest Blog by Bevis “PA” Kennett