My Little Digital Natives

Last week my wife called me during a meeting, which means it must be urgent. Our two-and-a-half-year-old son, Joe, quickly got on the line, anxious to tell me something. “Daddy, get Gabby a iPad!!” Gabby is his little sister. At 18 months, she’s ready for a tablet.

When I first introduced Joe to my iPad , I gave him no instruction. It took him about 30 seconds to figure it out. In no time, we were singing along to Cookie Monster videos on YouTube, reading “Goodnight iPad,” (here’s the video version: Goodnight iPad video) and I was dancing like Ernie to make him giggle.

joe with tabletAfter watching my kids interact with technology, it was interesting to see the data from eMarketer released a few days ago on kids growing up in digital homes as “digital natives.” According to the report, tablet usage of the youngest (11 and under) already outpaces the oldest (65+). This makes sense, especially if the children are growing up in hyper-connected households with parents who use technology as a normal part of their day-to-day.

Almost half of the kids surveyed (47%) said that the household use of technology is “a great way to connect as a family” and they use technology together often. For many families, it’s a way to come together – playing a video game, watching videos, sharing apps and music, staying connected via text, etc.

gabby and ipad
At 18-months, I’m wondering if my Gabby is off to a late start – the digital connection in some household reportedly extends down to newborns. “eMarketer estimates that 45% of kids younger than 12 will be internet users this year—an impressive rate for an age bracket that includes newborns. In fact, internet use is so widespread at such a young age that the forecast does not predict much growth in this tender-aged group.” Even when the child doesn’t have a device of their own, they have access to them – often handed mom’s smartphone or tablet to keep them busy (and quiet) in the car or at restaurants. (My kids are always quiet, but I hear this happens with other families.)

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