Sometimes we brush off the things little kids do because they are tiny and “don’t know anything.” Watching my child grow, I discovered it is the opposite – an 18 month old baby has lessons to teach us all about using technology.
Lots of parents worry that they can’t keep up with their children’s knowledge of computers. It is time adults begin discovering the world with a child-like wonder, rather than playing it safe.
Here are the top five lessons I have had from watching a baby navigate a tablet.
1. Don’t be afraid
This is the number one thing adults need to remember. When an 18 month old approaches a device, well, any object really, they do so with abandon. Fingers fly, looking and searching for reactions. The baby thinks, “If I press this, then that happens. Neato!” Or so I imagine the unuttered words going through that little mind.
The device, be it a computer, tablet or fancy phone won’t bite like The Monster Book of Monsters in Harry Potter. So delve in and just start using it. If all else fails, crack open the manuel.
2. It won’t break
As adults, we are often afraid we will break the technology or lose something. Well, the 18 month old managed to do just that. With Dad’s favourite new game, suddenly all the data was gone. We are not sure how, but it was done. And the world didn’t end.
There are more important things in life that can be lost, than the bits and bytes of computer data. As adults, we can also read the “DELETE NOW” warning and press ‘cancel’. Just a reminder, always back up your machines, tablets and data, investigate cloud-computing, and auto backup.
3. Just do it!
When we first got our tablet, an iPad, we decided it was a fantastic device. When baby’s little fingers hit the machine, it transformed. What I mean is, this 18 month old could (and often still can) produce effects we’ve never seen before. For example, the baby switched between apps, seemingly by magic. Now we are pretty tech savvy, as are our friends, but the kid schooled us all by discovering the little known (at the time) hand navigation the iPad features. We finally Googled it to discover the “four finger swipe” for ourselves.
The moral of this story? Mash buttons. Throw yourself at a device with your whole body, or whole hand, and see what happens. The best results in life come by approaching tasks with abandon.
4. Watch closely
Toddlers are masters of watching and listening – skills we tend to lose as we grow older. Better still, toddlers watch and listen even when we don’t realize they are. As adults around technology, we are often convinced we are too smart, or “just can’t get it” and then we stop listening. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and we don’t learn.
So no matter who is in front of a device, even a smarty-pants eight year old who thinks they know best, watch what they are doing, and listen to what they are saying. There are always new tips and tricks to be discovered.
5. Devices and dinner don’t mix
On some level, we all know how rude it is to use a device at the dinner table, but I didn’t realize quite how universal that is, until my toddler screamed. I mean a ruckus of epic proportions, because the device in my hand – a phone at the time – was more important than the potential communication we could share over the meal.
If an 18 month old gets mad, an adult being ignored by a meal companion who is buried in handheld technology, should be furious; perhaps adults need to throw fits more often to get this message across. The rudeness of digital devices at dinner and social gatherings cannot be underestimated. Put down the phone and challenge everyone to some old fashioned conversation.
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Simple is better
Lots of people have a hate-going-on for Apple because they are big, and profitable, and their devices are popular. But one can’t deny the simplicity and ease of using their technology. It took the baby 13 months of life to unlock an iPhone without being shown (a now password protected iPhone,) which is the mark of great design. If your user needs a complicated manual, you haven’t done your job properly.
This advice works for all aspects of life: vacation, lesson plans and every morning’s schedule. Keep it simple.
And take time out of your day to watch and listen to someone smaller – you never know what you might learn.
Image source: Fox News