Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Age-Appropriate Gadgets

In today's New York Times [HT: Andrew Leigh], an article about growing up with gadgets. There is not much in there that isn't just plain common sense. After all, you may read about some 2 year old using a computer but in actuality that is a rare, rare event.

We have had mobile phone discussions in our family but basically, until they are out on their own there is no need. Our 9 year old says the school doesn't allow them and being so damn obedient there, she would likely refuse one if offered. Our 7 year old, on the other hand, wants nothing less than an iPhone but that is for a different reason that I'll come to in a second.

That said, our kids are hardly gadget free. The two eldest have iPods and DSs that we have found invaluable when traveling. The 3 year old wants them too but doesn't care as much about whether they work. So she has been given a iPod cardboard cut out from one of our iPod accessories and she is happy with that. That said, there is something a little sad in that whole transaction and I'm sure she will have the three dimensional variety soon enough.

It is my 7 year old son that is the gadget fan and there is little holding him back. He gladly watches all of the ads and video demonstrations on He feels our house deserves a MacBook Air for the excellent reason that it is currently the best. We have resisted. But following on the New York Times article, he will do anything so long as it is on a computer. I downloaded the wonderful MIT programming software Scratch. It is a programming environment for kids and he quite happily develops animations and stories on it.

But now that he saw Steve Job's keynote on the iPhone applications and the demonstration of how easy it is to write applications with the SDK, he has become very interested in that. So we have officially registered as an Apple Software Developer and have downloaded the software. It is tricky but there are lots of video guides.

And what am I really after in all of this? Basically, what I want is a headline: "7 year old programs and launches software on the iPhone App Store." If we can manage that, he can have an iPhone for his 8th birthday.