Info & Answers
Never Too Young to Learn
Some recent developments among toddlers show how easy it is to learn the ways of the electronic house.
July 12, 2010 by Arlen Schweiger

I remember seeing a photo in a co-worker’s office a couple of years ago, and thinking “Hey that’s cute! Was she actually listening?” It was of her 3-year-old daughter wearing iPod’s iconic white ear buds. The answer was something like, “Yeah, she loves it!”

Wow, I thought. I can’t remember what technology I learned first—probably turning the dial on and off on our behemoth TV console when I was about that age. Didn’t take much skill, I think.

Two years ago, my daughter started fiddling around with the iPod (pictured). Then she started turning the cable box on and off, and the TV on and off with the remote. Then she started asking me to “pause my show” when she needed a potty break. We don’t even have a DVR—but her daycare family does, and we watch so many on-demand cartoons that can be paused that she just thinks this is normal. She loves playing games on Nick Jr. and PBS Kids websites, and when we watch a Scooby-Doo movie via Netflix Watch Instantly on the computer she doesn’t need my help to pause the movie (potty break, of course). When I recently introduced her to what a record was: “Daddy, that looks like a big CD.” Naturally.

She’ll be 4 in a month and a half. It’s just funny to me how much technology she already knows, and she’s not the only one her age, as friends play web games and listen to iPods, too. At a birthday party for a 4-year-old this weekend the birthday girl got a portable DVD player—“A DVD player!” she blurted on seeing the box alone, not being told.

How fast does life move these days? Are your children drawn toward technology? Do you give them a friendly nudge? Apparently next year my girl will be able to start helping me on electronics installation even.

We write about whole-home automation and distributed audio controls all the time. Most homeowners tell their installers and us that they want controls as simplified as possible. So I’m guessing if you have a well-laid out touchpanel with lots of colorful icons that show exactly what they control (like a graphic of a TV to turn the TV on/off) that your kiddos may be using home automation as early as 2—when they’re not destroying speaker tweeters, like my colleague Bob Archer’s curious son.

Two more quick anecdotes about my daughter Jordyn. A couple of months ago, I picked up my wife’s BlackBerry and she asked me, “Daddy, I don’t want you checking Facebook.” I wasn’t—but I giggled at how she thinks Facebook before she thinks telephone upon me picking up a cell phone. A couple of days ago, my wife’s friend and nearly 2-year-old daughter were visiting, and Jordyn wanted to play a song for the daughter, Green Day’s “Know Your Enemy” (don’t ask). When my wife told her that the CD was in my car, the response: “Can you go get daddy’s iPod?” Naturally.

So what do you remember learning about first, and what are your kids learning first? Any toddler iPad fanatics out there?

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Arlen Schweiger - Contributor, Electronic House Magazine
Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for and Electronic House magazine.

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