After reading a chapter of a children’s e-book to my two girls, ages 7 and 6, the other night, the elder, an avid reader, informed me that she wanted her own e-reader. As I tucked my second grader in, she told me of friends with Kindle Fires and iPhones. My line to this has always been, “Different parents, different rules,” even if I’d rather say, “a grade schooler with an iPhone is crazy.”
My husband and I agree that now is the time to foster creativity in our girls and don’t want it to be crushed by all the technology available at their fingertips. Yet, we are in the minority with this opinion, as far as I can tell.
Go out to a restaurant, and you’ll be sure to observe two year olds with iPads, as well as countless other children at various ages, glued to tablets, smart phones, and such. What does this mean for the next generation of technology users, for whom this magic has always existed?
Right now, this generation is in an experimental phase, for this stream of information and entertainment has never been so readily available. And yet I wonder if this is the same quandary our parents faced with the advent of cable TV? Didn’t the generation before that vex over the availability of television in general? “Don’t sit too close to the TV, you’ll go blind!”
Today’s technology is a two-way experience. This is not viewing; this is interacting. This is talking to a machine and getting answers. Just this morning my six year old asked Siri if it was going to rain today. This is the world at your fingertips. This is the age of social media making our world a very small place and discovering people in the most random places and even more bizarre ways.
What does this mean as our children grow up? They have appeared on social media from the moment they were born. That is why I first signed up for Facebook, to see the latest pictures of a friend’s baby. We capture moments of their life and display them for the world to see, almost the moment they happen. Will they be upset or will it just be a fact of life when they realize how much of their life has been made public? Will they be able to tap into these networks and find out what they were up to at eight years old? Graduation and wedding videos will not consist of a few random pictures, but a true snapshot of life.
This digital generation will demand more than ever before because they will not know any other way. This is the generation that will mandate a better, more intuitive home, cars that are computers, and TVs that know what they want to watch and when they want to watch it. They are just about born with the ability to “swipe” and are taught to manage computers from kindergarten.
This is why we saw Google purchase Nest, and I am betting this is the exact reason that our dear Apple will be revealing their own plans for the Smart Home at WWDC on June 2. Apple will be live streaming the feed for all of the world to watch.
We are on the precipice of the next wave of automation and integration, and these mammoth companies know it. It is why they are aligning with other companies and gobbling up startups at insane billion-dollar price tags. It is our children that will demand that we take the next leap in technology. Now is the time to examine your company and make sure you are ready for the next generation.
Heather L. Sidorowicz is the president of Southtown Audio Video in Hamburg, NY.