Mobiles, digital cameras, games consoles… they may be on your wish list, but the average five year-old wants them too. Money well spent or dosh down the drain?
There are many marked differences between childhood today and previous generations. Diet, safety, stupid names… but none more pronounced than the grasp today’s kids have on technology.
My daughter’s two-and-a-half and she already knows how to look at the pictures on our digital camera. She’s also got the swipe and double-tap actions sorted, so she can do the same on her dad’s smartphone.
Too much too young?
While I’m well aware that all this is just part of an average two-year-old’s day, and I’ll even encourage her to have an understanding of technology, I’m nervous about how it’ll all pan out in a few years’ time.
And with justification. Research just out shows that we spend an average of £438 a year on techno gadgets alone for children aged between five and seven. At the age of seven this average spend leaps up to £761. Gulp – hardly surprising they’re being dubbed ‘techno tots’.
According to Kelkoo, almost half of kids aged five to seven own a games console, while 20% have an MP3 player and 12% a mobile phone.
Should buying gadgets be a battle?
Having recently spent some time with my niece and nephew aged nine and ten, I’m well aware that games consoles will one day be on my daughter’s wish list. According to them, there are only one or two kids in their class without a Nintendo DS – but this research suggests I could be facing that battle much sooner than I thought.
But should it be a battle? Should we just accept that today’s children live in a different world and that life is full of technological devices? You can see how parents cough up in a desperate attempt to keep their kids from looking uncool and the whole thing spirals out of control.
Having just returned from a holiday in Wales, buying a portable DVD player would certainly have helped the five-hour journey with a toddler. But we have managed to resist this temptation in favour of nursery rhyme CDs (argh), crayons (mostly on the car door) and stickers (mostly on the car floor).
For now, I’m going to do my best to encourage a love and understanding of technology without overly relying on it as a form of entertainment. We’ll just have to see how that theory works when peer pressure kicks in.