First, watch this.
Yes, the kids are adorable and their comments absolutely hysterical. (And you can see more on my YouTube library of kids’ reactions to old technology.)
But as you watch, I want you to think about the deeper implications behind their reactions.
The pace of technological innovation has increased exponentially over the past few decades. Change happens faster under our watch than it did under that of our parents.
Because the pace of change we experienced with our parents was slower, we actually shared appreciation for and adoption of certain technologies with them, such as (depending on your age) records and record players, remote controls, VCRs, Nintendo, CDs, DVDs, digital video and HD.
You may have even shared some element of early mobile phone experiences with your parents via flip phones and Blackberries. Perhaps you overlapped a bit with your parents in the use of the early computers.
For a significant part of our young lives, we shared experiences and common language with our parents about tech innovation. This is because th
e pace of that innovation allowed us enough time to connect with our parents around it.
But even for us, there was a moment of departure where we zoomed ahead in tech adoption. For a
gut-busting parody of this, see see Amy Schumer’s bit in which she tries to help her mom perform what we consider basic tasks on a computer.
So take Schumer’s example, and consider that the pace of change is now exponentially faster and so dynamic that you will have little opportunity to appreciate a new technology in the same way that your child will. You will struggle daily
to keep up with the pace of innovation and their interactions with it. You will not have the luxury of time that our parents had.
To understand this better, imagine you are walking down the street with your child, and suddenly they race forward into the distance, disappearing completely from sight. Technologically speaking, it will feel a lot like that.
Many of you already sense this and for some, the reaction to this trend is to try to limit or control your child’s access to technology. In essence, you are putting a “leash” on your child, holding on for dear life as they struggle forward, dragging you down the street.
But is leashing the answer? I would argue that as parents faced with an unprecedented pace of tech innovation, the answer is not to be gatekeepers, but to become informed partners
and advocates. I would argue that because the tech we are talking about will actually shape your child’s life opportunities, it is our responsibility to react differently.
I am moved by a quote from an organization I follow closely, The Institute for the Future, which rigorously studies future trends and suggests positive and groundbreaking applications. On kids and tech, they say this:
New technologies are going to help many kids play the part of the magician. They will enchant us with their creations and sleight of hand. They will also amaze us with their ability to escape from the technological chains we’re tying them up with as well. We live in a world of fast and accelerating change. Kids are in some ways ideally prepared to deal with change, and may have more to say and more power to influence the world than at any other time in history. That new empowerment will be the real magic kids bring to the world, and it may be the magic that saves the world from us adults. We are very pleased to publically release this important forecast report, and we welcome your comments and critiques.
If you are curious, see the full text of this page to see what IFF believes the coming trends are for children and technology.
I leave you with these thoughts and invite you to explore future posts and our upcoming speaker series where we will build bold and future-oriented templates for parenting the digital native.