"Digi-phobic parents fearing that their swiping, oblivious kids will wind up in the late, great Ray Bradbury's lion-infested nursery, steering dangerous beasts through a landscape unnavigable by – and implacably hostile to – anyone over 18..."
The Guardian, June 2012
How old is a child reader? Anything between two (if we are thinking of something like Nosy Crow's Cinderella) to 16 (if we are thinking more of Celia Rees's This Is Not Forgiveness. How old is a parent, then? Anything from 18 to 50ish - bit more at a push, especially if a father. Or perhaps a bit younger if they weren't paying attention during those how-to-put-a-condom-on-a-cucumber lessons (or paying too much attention, and put it on the cucumber instead).
So what excuse does a person aged 18-50ish have for not being able to use an intuitive , user-friendly bit of everyday technology? We're not talking about building your own database/website/Flash animation here - I mean swiping a screen or clicking on a picture. If you can wipe a dead fly off a windowsill, you can drag a pig across an iPad screen.
|My first computer|
More importantly, the parents of today's toddlers are in their 20s and 30s. They were born in the 80s and even 90s. My Big Bint is 21 this month. Some of the kids she was at school with have children starting school in September. Do you think those parents can't negotiate an iPad? Get real.
In the 80s, I was training teachers to use new technology in the classroom. They were obliged to do it. They had to teach kids how to use the BBC micro, which is 31 years old this year. Obviously the BBC micro is not the same as an iPad - if you swiped it, you just left a smear on the screen. But the first desktop computer appeared 28 years ago. (Or 29 if you were cool enough to use a Lisa). When did you first use the web? I used it in 1994 - 18 years ago, on Mosaic, which was released in 1993. That was early, but most people must have used it by 2000, surely? This stuff has been around for a long time. We must be running out of 'digi-phobic parents'.
|My really ancient v.1 iPad|
There will always be some parents who aren't interested - who don't use YouTube or send texts because they don't want to. They are the equivalent of parents (like me) who never learned the rules of football or gave a toss about motorbikes because they find them unutterably dull topics.Now, surely, digi-phobic is just digi-averse, and is the same as being football-averse, or music-averse or fashion-averse - it's not a special state, just an expression of preference.
But perhaps I'm wrong. Maybe the world is thronged with parents who have had their eyes closed for the last ten years. Is it, really?