First, there were the baby boomers, people born between 1946 – 1964 (as defined by the US Census Bureau). Then, they yielded generation X (a.k.a “gen exers”). With the baby boomers’ second marriages, they spawned generation Y. For those of you thinking, “Well what about the MTV generation?” That generation is a blend of the X and Y generations. So what’s to make of the generation formed from the Xers breeding with the Yers? How about the “iPod Generation”?
Sure Nick Bosanquet and Blair Gibbs tried to coin that phrase back in 2005, but they were mostly referring to education and socio-economic status. For them, IPOD stood for, Insecure, Pressured, Over-taxed, and Debt-ridden. Plus, they tried to tag that generation label on the MTV generation. Given that the members of that generation detest labels, the IPOD label failed to gain any steam.
The iPod generation I am referring to is for children born not with a silver spoon in their mouths, but with an iPod in their hands. Today’s new-borns have so much technology at their tiny fingertips, that they are already able to do more than in the palm of their hands than their grandparents can do with a map, calculator, telescope, and compass. Clearly, they are able to do so much because this technology is all they have ever known. Thus, they never had to “re-learn” a process or get confused from an old method.
My family is not exempt from this epidemic. When my son turned two, he received an iPod from his grandparents. We used it to play his songs while taking him out in his stroller. I eventually figured out how to hook it up to the television so that he could watch some of his favorite shows. When his grandparents visited a year and a half later, they allowed him to play with their iPhone. My son was captivated by the ease of use of the device and thoroughly enjoyed playing the game (some animal memory app game). During this time, we were still potty training him, and thus we used this tool as a reward once he became completely trained. Sure enough, we decided to buy the iPod Touch (mostly for my wife so that she can do her e-mail, facebook, etc.). Each time my son used the potty, he was permitted to play with the iPod Touch. He was fully trained in a month! Best $200 I have ever spent (for any of you that are parents, I’m sure you would gladly pay even more than that to potty train your kids within a month’s timeframe).
Thus, on a recent drive to the airport for a flight to the sunshine state, we realized that we forgot to bring the iPod Touch. We actually contemplated turning around and getting the device, but decided against it, as we despised using the device as a crutch just to keep our son occupied. Upon arriving at the airport, we proceeded to the security line. We noticed several other families in line with us. What did they all have in common? You guessed it, iPods for the kiddies.
Fortunately for us, our son did not need the device for the 2 1/2 hour flight, as he rested most of the way.
While in Florida, we visited my sister’s family. When entering their house, we knew that they were all about those little hand-held devices, as they have five of them. Each parent has an iPhone and old iPod, and the oldest daughter (age 5) as an iPhone. They even refer to her as “The Pod”.
I conducted a recent poll on a parenting website. Out of the 32 respondents, 23 have iPods. Of those 23 though, 6 have devices purchased primarily for the child.
Sure, that may be less than 20%. But this is a $200 device. Compared to generations X and Y, we were lucky to get a watch or calculator that cost more than $5 by middle school.
As much as I despise the product, it is the best device available, and Apple certainly has made a complete 180 from nearly becoming extinct from the technology industry. Plus, I recall begging for a Nintendo game system back in 1988 – using such arguments as, “It’s great for ‘hand-eye’ coordination”, and “Everyone else has one”.
Did my “hand-eye” coordination improve? Probably.
Was the gaming system a necessity? Nope.