Over the years I have been astonished at the technical prowess of our grandchildren. Perhaps I shouldn't be surprised: advancing technology has made it clear that it's physical coordination more than mental ability that has in the past held children back.
In 2006: Jonathan, who just turned three, met me on the stairs with a blue cable in his hand. As I passed, I remarked, "That looks like a Cat 5 cable." "No it's not," he responded, "It's a USB cord." (He was right.)
And in 2010: One day Heather discovered two-year-old Faith sitting at the computer, typing away in their Open Office word processing program. She assumed Jon had set it up for her, but that was not the case. No one knows how Faith did it. This is no consumer-friendly iPhone, nor even Windows, but a Linux-based system only a geek could love.
There were many more examples I did not record, but I thought of these the other day, when it happened again.
Joseph, just shy of his fifth birthday, had been using his mother's GMail program to compose and send me a letter. He then told me he wanted to make a copy. I wasn't sure what he meant, so I showed him how to click on the Sent folder to see the e-mail again. That wasn't what he wanted, but his sister required some immediate assistance, so I said I'd help him when I returned.
Just a couple of minutes later I came back, and he was in the process of removing a page from the printer. He then shut the printer down and put the tray back into its folded position. When he handed the printout to me, I asked him how he knew what to do. "I clicked on the print button," he replied.
I don't use GMail to compose or read my mail, but I logged on to see see if the process was really that simple. It's not. First of all, the print icon is small (though I'll admit his eyes are quite a bit younger than mine, so maybe that doesn't matter much), and once you click on it you have at least one more step before the print actually happens.
Technology is not strange, nor frightening, to those who grow up with it as ubiquitous as air.
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