Friday, January 13, 2012

Two-Year-Old Techies

I was sitting in the waiting room at the doctor's office, when my attention was captured by a two-year-old boy. He was sitting next to his aunt, his feet dangling in the air with a pad-type computer resting on his knees. This adorable little guy was deep in concentration, his tongue sticking out just a bit, while his finger swiftly swiped pages on the screen.

As I stood and caught a better view, I could see that he was playing a bowling game. A quick flick of his finger, and a virtual bowling ball tumbled down an alley. A strike! He was good. Then, apparently, he was done with bowling, downsized the game, and with another flick of his chubby little finger, opened a new application. He was sorting berries on trees into piles, counting and sorting, and counting again.

Done with that as well, he closed the window and opened another.

Amazing! At two years old, he was as agile on the tablet computer as an adult.

Just as astonishing, to me, was how quiet and well behaved he child was. His aunt, deeply involved in reading a book on her Kindle, glanced up with a smile. "Well, he's not always this calm," she said. "But, I'm thankful for now!"

Watching this little boy was a wake up call for me. As a professor of Communications and the mother of an 8th-grader, I have realized, of course, that the younger generation is more tech-savvy than I will ever be.

But, I think I failed to realize that it is not a matter of increased technical ability. This generation will not see technology as something to be learned or used or adapted to, but as actual extensions of themselves. They see Ipads and cell phones as natural ways to see and hear, to learn and to explore. They use technology effortlessly because it is an integral part of who they are.

For me, there is a strain to keeping up with new media. I am both exhiliarated to discover a new web-site, like Pinterest, and also exhausted by it. New ways of communicating require me to learn, to understand, to adapt. I am tired of trying to be hip and current.

Yet, technology surrounds me, relentless in its presence. In my college class, I asked students to find Bible verses to support their views of contemporary media. Immediately, about one-third of the class took out their phones.

No more sword drills for these 18-year-olds. No more dog-eared, pen-underlined, heavy-to-carry copies of God's Word.

Of course, the Bible is on their phones.

Why wouldn't it be?