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Keeping up with the.. mini me!
Published: 09/09/2013

A friend’s toddler went to the TV screen and tried swiping it. They turned to their parents and told them it was broken because the screen didn’t scroll!

At my father’s place we uncovered my mother’s typewriter. My youngest daughter wondered not only what it was but WHY would anyone use it??

A bit shocking perhaps but if you think about it, they are good questions. We live in an age where word processing is at the fingertips and where touch screen has become so ubiquitous even for a toddler, that to be without is a problem.

We see these technological advancements within a framework, we have grown up with them. Our children and their children see and will see these advances as standard.

When we were young and at home, we were with our families (in my case hogging either the TV or the phone). Now our children and grandchildren are engaging in cyber chats with ‘friends’ on social media platforms or watching programmes and films streamed direct onto their PCs, laptops, tablets etc. They aren't playing with simple toys but with interactive ones.

We grew up with books, they are growing up with e-books, which (according to Amazon) started outselling paperbacks way back in 2011. This trend continues and  future generations will be far more comfortable with electronic media and printed paper will be positively primitive! Saying that, my little girl loves her Beano and I think it would lose something if it went digital, though considering the state of the environment and our bookshelves, this is perhaps not such a bad thing.

These new platforms bring their own set of challenges however and we are learning about them as we go. Social networks where data is shown publicly can be tricky. Settings should be put to max and even then, it might not be enough. It is the main reason why we chose to keep any content recorded from our Lifestorybank website private and not publicly available and why there are more private social media sites springing up.

Smart phones, tablets, netbooks and pcs are now everyday tools in our busy lives. They make communication so much easier - keeping in touch with loved ones is a breeze compared with when we were young. Especially important these days when we can be living countries or even continents apart from our family and friends.

We grew up keeping in touch by telephone and calls were simply vocal. Do you remember writing letters and WAITING for the post? Now we have video calls which mean that communication is so much more vivid and meaningful. We use social media to connect with many at once, colouring our messages with a variety of text, images and video. Communication is now much FASTER and real time rather than time warped.

Remember when your parents would yell at you to get off the phone or about the size phone bill  (or was that just me?) Staying in touch now is not only possible but viable in terms of time spent and cost too. For our children it is a whole different modus operandi with almost constant chat and information flow between the many members of their circles of friends. They even enjoy this without a prospective phone bill tirade hanging like the sword of Damacles over the whole conversation.

Our childhood was different and appropriate for us and the time in which we were young. We are now living through seismic shifts in communications, technology, societies and economies. Our attitude and forward thinking will affect future generations and the childhood experiences of our children. Some of the activities we do now are already on the wane such as sending emails and will surely be unrecognisable in 10 years.

Our current tools are the Internet and the Cloud. Who knows what our children or grandchildren will be using? However, while the platforms may evolve and change, the experiences and skills we develope and learn today can only benefit them. How we embrace the new technologies and services that appear, affect them as well. How can we assume they will want to read our words if we insist on writing with a pen on paper when their world is digital?

Youngsters are already comfortable with apps, internet and cloud services. This is natural - after all they will be the ones pushing the boundaries even further. It is quite daunting but in the years ahead, to be able to communicate and connect with them, surely we must look to embrace future technology too even if it means changing the way we do things now.