As a relatively new, though long distance, grandfather I was interested the other week when my 12 month old grandaughter finally came down our way to visit. Being the first person of that age to visit our relatively new home it was interesting to see how Charlotte went about exploring. As a reasonably competent walker she was more than capable of going to the places that best attracted her attention. I should add that at the same time as being interested in what Charlotte was doing, the male adults in the room at least were also keeping a weather eye on the cricket game that was being played out in silence on the television.
Having toured the room on more than one rotation and having taken an interest in a couple of chairs that moved, Charlotte’s eyes were drawn to the blue glow of the on/off button of the set top box. Within minutes she had worked out that if you pressed this button that the blue light went out and that if you pressed it again, the light came back on, (what she hadn’t noticed also was that the cricket disappeared from the TV screen). Now of course when the cricket was not available the adult males began to react, though whether Charlotte noticed this initially is a moot point. However having interrupted the cricket for more than a few times she did begin to appreciate that making this blue button go on and off made said adults, both male and female react in interesting ways and so she continued to “play” the button game but this time turned to look for the adult reactions between each press. Kind of reverse conditioning.
A day or so later my attention was caught by a story of a three year old who was showing aptitude with his parent’s iPhone. The tenor of the story was that the touch based interface of the iPhone enabled this particular toddler to work out for themselves quite a deal of the functionality of the device through simple trial and error. The very next day I was in another conversation with another parent reflecting on pre-schoolers and how they “work” with devices. She told me how her four year old was proudly telling her grandmother that he could read. When the grandmother reacted quizzically, the child proceeded to get out a book and a reading pen to “read” the book.
About the same time, Dean Groom posted about his Tech Savvy Pre-schoolers which sort of posed the question where and what can kids do with technology and at what age. Heading back to Google a quick search on iPhone and three year olds bought up a plethora of links and blogposts such including this YouTube video.
Further investigation even bought up the iPhone and Kids site specifically dedicated to highlighting iPhone Kids Games and Apps Reviews, Video Demos and Tips for Parents. Even further searching bought forth links to videos of 2 year old and 12 months old children interacting with these type of devices.
Cool though all of this is it further puts into question just how youngsters learn and whether we are now beginning to see the development of tools that can circumvent the need to mediate much learning via language. As Dean says it also raises a rather fascinating scenario of how schools will best cope in a few years with these youngsters when they arrive there. (Even more so what does it say for the pre-school environment which can be even more devoid of technology)? What also of those children who have not had the opportunity to engage in these types of experiences?
Hmmm maybe I’ll put off getting an iPhone for myself in lieu of getting one for Charlotte, at least we might get toview the cricket without interuption :).