“Daddy, can I have the password, please?”
My youngest (three years old) was conducting her usual evening routine. Having eaten, played outside, drawn a little, and had her bath; she dragged the laptop bag from the computer corner and flicked it on. Windows had booted up but there is a password on the laptop and, anyway, she can’t type.
Although a fairly innocuous question, this got me thinking about just how different her childhood will be from my own. At three years old, she has probably already spent more time on a computer than the total I had spent by the time I left high school. I don’t think I had used a password until I was in my teens.
At three, she has been exposed to more information and interactive entertainment than I could have dreamed of. When she wants to watch TV, she snacks on short kids videos from a site like TotLol rather than tucking into a half-hour show (with ten minutes of advertising). When she wants to learn about counting, she fires up Jumpstart Preschool – I learnt with an abacus (how old does that make me sound?). When she wants to hear a story, she can take her pick from BrainPop, YouTube, or MagicKeys – I had a bi-monthly trip to the library – four books maximum.
There are those who argue that this wide availability and accessibility of knowledge will make my kids and the rest of their generation stupid. That “information-overload” means that they will not really learn anything. A recent article on Wired titled; The Critics Need a Reboot, took on this backward-faced reasoning.
“Think of Wikipedia and its emergent spinoffs, like Wiktionary. Imperfect as they may be, the collective brainpower contained within these kinds of sites — and the hunger for learning and accurate information they represent — is something human history has never known before.”
My Daughter’s generation are entering a world quite unlike that which came before. Sure, the internet has its fair share of distractions, misleading information and downright trash, but my daughter will go through life able to acces information whenever she wants it. She will not have to rely on her teachers, parents, or the government to tell her what is true. She will be able to develop skills, see and hear new things, build relationships, create, and contribute using technology.
And she won’t have to ask for my permission.