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A plugged in Christmas

December 29, 2011 - Andrea Johnson
I watched my 5- and 2-year-old nephews playing for hours this Christmas with video games, iPads and smart phones.

When I found a stuffed animal for the 2-year-old to play with, he spent several seconds looking for its on switch. He lost interest once he realized it didn't play music and couldn't be made to dance via remote control.

They are the true digital natives, kids who have been playing with this technology since before they could speak and completely unintimidated by it. Teachers used to be fond of saying that my generation would be digital natives, but I didn't touch a computer until I was 10, didn't use the Internet until I was a year out of college and was already working at a newspaper when they first started teaching classes online and delivering classes via interactive television. I have learned to use this technology, even to love some of it, like the Internet that I consider a vast library where I can find out anything I want at the click of a keyboard. I hate my cell phone and use it begrudgingly, but I have to have one because everyone else does.

At one time I could not have imagined a Christmas where everyone in the family would be sitting in the living room glued to the iPads in our laps, surfing the Internet while "Christmas Story" played over and over again on TBS, but that's exactly how we spent Christmas. Books seem to have gone the way of the dinosaur since everyone is reading their new books on iPads or Nooks.

I am a stranger in a strange land compared to my nephews, a complete Luddite. If I showed my nephews the typewriter I learned how to type on or the rotary phone with the party line that my grandmother still used when I was their age, they'd probably look at it like I once looked at an antique gramophone in a county museum. There's nothing like a child to make you feel old or to make you look at the world in an entirely different way.


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