Hallo. My name is Suzanne and I am the mother of a 4 year old technophile.
Why is it that children are so much more in touch with technology than previous generations? I had to learn to use computers because it was an integral part of my studies. It is impossible to get through studying these days without computers. If I never studied there is a possibility that I wouldn’t have known my RAM from my ROM.
So why does my 4 year old know more about computers, how they work and how to make them work than most adults? He hasn’t studied anything except The Relevance of Lightning McQueen in Daily Suburban Living. Admittedly he has made a rather thorough study of the topic.
My mom is proudly technologically challenged. She can get the washing machine to wash, the dishwasher to do its thing and she can heat things up quickly in the microwave. All the other buttons on the microwave have never been touched and I don’t think they ever will. She can also answer her cellphone. I am very impressed. When they got their first cellphone she didn’t trust it at all. Picture the scene.
It is 1995. The phone rings. And rings. And rings. And dies. Starts ringing again. My mom realises that it was her phone ringing all along. She grabs the phone. Holds it out as far as her arm can reach (she doesn’t have time to go and get new glasses – her arm is still long enough). It is still ringing. She glares at it. It rings. She stabs at the “little green phone” button with one finger. She glares some more. Carefully she lifts the phone to her ear and says “Hallo???”. By this time the caller was very impatient and thoroughly confused.
The strange thing is that you could actually hear each of the 3 question marks.
She has gotten better at it though. She can now type text messages. Usually along the lines of “Onthou.Om.Te.Bel” – the space button just doesn’t want to submit to my mom’s attempts at taming it. But hey! She is making progress!
And then you have Woutertjie. In a moment of desperation in hospital I showed him the online Micky Mouse and Thomas the Tank Engine games. Now he switches the laptop on, connects to the internet, opens Internet Explorer, opens up the “History” button and then calls me to select the correct website. He can’t read and that is the only reason why he doesn’t choose on his own. And when he is done he selects “Start”, “Turn off computer” and “Shut down”.
(What amazes me even more is his grasp of the English language. We are Afrikaans and raise our children Afrikaans. From watching movies and playing games Woutertjie has picked up enough English to be able to follow the gist of most conversations. He also commits English. Committing is like speaking, but a lot less understandable.)
You should see how Boeta follows the sometimes very complicated instructions of the games. His English vocabulary has expanded a lot. As a result he has now declared that the Afrikaans word “skaduwee” doesn’t exist and he only has a shadow. “Kyk Mamma! Kyk my shadow!”
I finally understand why my mom just shakes her head at all the new technology coming along. She says she doesn’t need to keep up – she has children to do it for her. At the rate Woutertjie is learning he will know more than I do about computers by the time he is 6 years old. What are the odds that I will be able to keep up with him when he really hits his technology-stride by the time he finishes school? I will look like an incompetent dinosaur of the analog age. But then, with such a genius for a son I wouldn’t need to do much. He could do it for me.
Oi vey. I am turning into my mother.