My nephew got an ipod touch for mastering potty training recently. He's 5. When I tell others this story, I get a lot of reactions...most of which are negative. "Ugh that's ridiculous, he's 5" or something else about spoiling or being too young, and so on.
I think that I'd usually be inclined to agree because I strongly believe in simplicity. Playing outside, being a kid, not having kids that get bored with the simple things. I'd be inclined to agree except for the fact that in this case I don't agree.
We got a computer when I was in elementary school. I had an e-mail address, AIM and knew basic html when I was 9. It feels strange that my 9 year old niece chats with me everyday on gmail chat, yet in reality she's the same age I was when I had that mastered.
Times are a changing. Technology moves quickly and kids are exposed to it younger and younger. Kids know how to use cell phones, they know how to use digital cameras, they know how to get on the internet. There are apps specifically made for kids on our ipads, ipods, etc. for education and entertainment to be used at home, in the car, and in the grocery stores. It means parents have more responsibility for monitoring what kids are exposed to but lets be honest, being able to Skype with my nieces is awesome and ipads and portable dvd players are a life saver on long road trips. It was kind of inevitable wasn't it? If I had internet at 9 then surely the access my kids will have to technology will be far greater.
I guess the question is whether or not technology is having a positive impact or a negative one.
I imagine it's a little bit of both. I don't advocate spoiling your kids, spending in excess, or having kids addicted to technology; but learning how to record music, edit video and build websites aren't bad skills to acquire in our technology driven culture either.
My nephew for instance...
His parents have iphones, ipods, computers...his exposure of almost unavoidable. In the time he's been allowed to play with his dad's phone, he has mastered every game, which frankly is pretty impressive for a 5 year old.
He was having issues with potty training...he just would not give up diapers. It was a stubborn rebellious thing. My brother had an ipod touch that no one was using since they both had iphones, so when he finally mastered the potty, his reward was the ipod touch being deemed his. I'm pretty sure he played with it a lot anyway, but now he could claim ownership.
I don't really see an issue with this. He's 5, yes. But he's 5 in a world where 5 year olds know more than their grandparents about computers. They didn't go out and spend a couple hundred dollars on the kid as a reward, they just let him feel like something he already used was his. And why not?
I guess it's all debatable, and I have no idea how John Paul and I will handle technology with our kids. But my point is only this: Can we really judge how other parents treat technology based on our own childhood experiences when the world is so different from the one we grew up in?