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Sunday, January 11, 2015

Kids are simply natives; drop the modifier "digital"


There are those who claim children today are "digital natives." I'm not one of them.

Isla can make the dog in her book tilt its head. She simply pulls the large tab with the blue pointer. The tab is connected to a hinged head. But Isla can't change the image on the back of my camera. She insists on pushing the image off the screen as if my camera were an iPhone. It isn't. Isla is frustrated.

Isla is bright and someday she will work a computer much as I "work" a car. But just as I am not a mechanic, despite being raised with automobiles, Isla may never be a digital native despite being raised with computers.

When Isla's older sister, Fiona, brushed her hand casually over the keyboard of my laptop, the wireless Internet stopped working. The so-called digital natives in my world couldn't get my portable back online. I'm closing in on 70 but I found the answer. The antenna icon, looks a bit like the letter A with energy radiating from the tip, controls the wireless connection. Touch the icon and it turns off, touch it again and it turns on. It is a toggle that lights when in the on position and goes dark when the in the off position. Fiona toggled it off.

Every time I read in the paper how young people are so comfortable with computers while seniors are inept, I want to scream. I've been playing with computers for some three decades. I'm not a whiz but I am not frightened by computers either. When I had a sailboat in the '80s, I wrote a program to assist in charting my boat's position on the lake. I had a little, portable Radio Shack computer that performed the task very admirably.

If you, too, believe the computer skills of the young are highly overrated, please read: Kids can't use computers... and this is why it should worry you.

This is not to belittle children in anyway. Little kids are amazing. At about 14 months Isla could remove a screw top from a bottle. According to her other grandfather, today Isla can remove the childproof lids from his medicine bottles. She is definitely bottle-top native. With computers, which are bit more complex, she doesn't show anywhere near the aptitude.

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