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Infant

Baby knows how to play (age-appropriate) video games on my iPhone. She is very good at these games. Toddler knows how to surf the Internet; her latest fascination is, appropriately, Halloween costumes on Amazon. Toddler's preschool has a computer lab. She had her very first computer class of the year yesterday. Fine. My kids are itty-bitty modern movers. Too cute, right?

Maybe.

Last week, something happened. We were all in our family room around bedtime. As per usual, the girls had watched a DVRed program or two and Husband and I turned off the television and announced that it was time to call it a night. Baby protested. "No!" she screamed, adorably of course. Then she grabbed the remote. This was a funny image that made us smile because at just shy of two she is still a pretty small creature and the remote for our new television system is, well, bulky. Anyway, she held that remote close to her chest.

And I conducted a little experiment. I said, "Fine, little girl. If you can figure out how to turn on the television and get it to your show, you can watch one more." Husband and I shared a good old parenthood guffaw at the very idea of this.

Turns out the joke was on us. Baby played around with that fat remote and in no time, the big screen came to life. It was still on the program guide, so we still had some hope, but then Baby furrowed her tiny brow, studied the big black rectangle, pressed a single button and voila. Dora the Explorer.

I kid not. She is 22 months. What the - ? So, Husband and I laughed. And the four of us sat down and watched little Dora bound through those candy green cartoon woods.

I do not know what to make of this. That my kids, my very young kids, are beyond proficient with the technology of the day. On the one hand, I am proud and full of awe. On the other hand, I am, on a very basic level, alarmed. These little people do not even know how to read - or write - yet. Is it okay that they are mastering buttons and screens before they are mastering pages and sentences?

Let's hope so.

During preschool initiation last year, teachers and administrators from Toddler's school (which we truly adore) spoke about this phenomenon, this reality that our children, whether we like it or not, are growing up in a different world. That they are digital natives. I can't remember the details of the presentation, but I do recall being intrigued and impressed and amazed that this school had given this all so much thought, about how to prepare our children for life in this modern age without losing sight of the incomparable more traditional skills and development that have been around forever.

I write about this today because I have a hunch that I am not alone here. I imagine that some of you out there have encountered kids, maybe your own, who are shockingly comfortable around contemporary technology. I imagine that if we are honest here, and ask the big and hard questions, this could be a very interesting conversation.

So. Let's go.

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  • Are you amazed or alarmed at the very idea of digital natives?
  • Do your kids fiddle impressively with your gadgets?
  • Would you be pleased if your tiny tot was learning about computers at school

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Fear of the Known

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