This is Eddie, he’s my son and he’s 4 years old. We have just come back from our holiday in Deià, Majorca, where he has had the most fantastic time.
Prior to our departure, we were a little worried that he, being a sociable, nursery-school attending boy, would get bored with just mum and dad for ten days. No little pals with whom to explore, make things, play and fight.
We needn’t have worried. We, as a family, enjoyed a fantastic time together without the tedious, monochrome worries of life and work. Ours for ten days was a world full of joy, warmth and, as we found out, discovery.
Eddie discovered most of all. He discovered how to use his Nikon Coolpix L1 digital camera that we gave him and proceeded to take wonderful pictures of the things that interested him, mainly cars, his feet and mum and dad getting on with routine household tasks. He opened up our grown up eyes to the world as seen from waist height, where everything looms large and where his view is constantly constricted by walls, fences, hedges and other people.
Eddie then realised that my Canon Digital SLR camera worked by the same basic principles, so we started relying on him to take pictures of mum and dad, much to the astonishment of passers by, who were amazed by the sight of two adults posing in front of a four year old holding and successfully working the unwieldy apparatus of a digital SLR camera.
I shouldn’t be surprised really at this level of proficiency. After all, he mastered the satellite remote last year, plays with a PC at nursery and occasionally dabbles with my Macbook. Learning how to point and shoot with a camera, digital or otherwise, is not that hard.
What impresses me the most is his readiness to pick up a gadget and learn to use it by trial and error, his frustration to start with and the sheer joy in his face when he works it out. Eddie doesn’t know how these gadgets work, he just knows how to work them, not unlike my vague understanding of how diesel engines work, which does not stop me from driving my car.
I can’t help but think that Eddie is growing up in a world vastly different to mine, one in which technology is pervasive and, almost literally, part of the furniture. New technologies may be new to me, but certainly not to him.
Of course, it was not all about gadgets and technology. Eddie also enjoyed seeing a live octopus for the first time, going to the beach and playing with the sand and the sea, discovering that seaweed can be slimy, attempting to unsuccessfully pick limpets off a rock and realising that Spanish is spoken by way more people than just daddy.
Just now I asked him what he enjoyed the most about the holidays, he replied: swimming in the sea and making sand castles. He did not say: taking pictures with a digital Canon SLR camera and playing Peggle every evening on daddy’s iPhone. But he also didn’t say: I loved the air-conditioning and the way the microwave oven heated my chocolate milk every morning.
To Eddie, a computer, a digital camera and an iPhone fall under the same category as microwaves and air-conditioning. They’ve pervaded his life in such a way that he only notices them when they’re not there.
And that it’s how it should be. What do you think?