QT: Are Touch Devices the New Paper?

by Goldie on November 18, 2010

in quick thoughts,Society and Culture

My friend @alizasherman tweeted:

Do you use an iPhone/iPod/iPad? Do you let your kid (under 10) use it? Tell me what you have/what they use & how old!

And I was struck by how “current age” this question is. iPads/iPods and other touch devices are still relatively new. Do you give kids a chance to play with fancy electronics or geeky luxury devices?
However, if you think about how these touch devices are being used, I think we will see these devices quickly becoming “just what people have.”

I’m sure back when the printing press just started & when paper & ink was expensive and more challenging to get someone might have asked the same thing. At what age did you let your kid handle books? At what age did you let them use a quill?

Now we give children special books that are safe for the crib, and paper and crayons are handed out as soon as the dexterity to use them is there. “At what age did you let them” for paper and books would seem almost odd. How long before touch devices reach the same state?

The one place where there is a significant difference between books and touch devices is in the staticness of the data. If you handed your child “The Giving Tree” you can be pretty sure that it will have the story “The Giving Tree” in it and later…it still will have that story and not much else (other than perhaps some crayon marks.) With your Kindle or iPad the data is not that static. It may have “The Giving Tree” on it, but it could just as easily have any random thing on it. Does the dynamic nature restrict its easy givability? Or will we simply have unnetworked (or restricted network) touch devices for babies and small children and progress from there.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Zelmaru November 18, 2010 at 2:28 pm

I have an Android phone, and I let my 2 (almost 3)-year-old use it. There is a drawing program called “Toddler lock” which lets her use the touch screen to draw on – and she cannot access any other part of the phone while that is running. I still have to remind her to only use fingers on the touch screen (not her fork) and to be gentle.

She also likes to watch Youtube on the phone. She demands that I navigate to the next video rather than being able to do it herself yet. Besides playing with the fastforward/back touch keys during the video, she keeps her hands to herself while watching videos.

At that age, she doesn’t “get” e-books. She has regular books in her room (mostly board books) and she’s at the age where she doesn’t gnaw on them. She understands that the Kindle is “mommy’s book” and she should not manhandle it.

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