/ Parenting, Technology

Are tech savvy toddlers putting you to shame?

A recent conversation with my two-year-old nephew has made me realise just how tech savvy children are. Is this interest nurturing a generation of children who are a step-ahead of parents on the technology front?

I had a fascinating phone conversation with my nephew who believed I could see through the telephone to see exactly what he was seeing (building a diving board with his Lego kit).

Now this was no childish naivety (he knew I wasn’t there with him). He, like many children today, has grown up with advanced forms of communication.

Staying in-touch with video calls

In order to keep in touch with family across the UK and overseas we use Skype and have ‘face-to-face’ conversations through our computers. He’s so accustomed to such technology that he presumed I was enjoying his new build while on the phone to him. Perhaps I was lucky I couldn’t see, as I heard a few crashes swiftly followed by tears.

Now he’s a little step ahead of his grandmother – she calls this activity ‘facebooking’ when she really means video calls. No doubt the terms ‘Skype’ and ‘video call’ will quickly enter my nephew’s vocabulary (and his grandmother’s too).

Computer whizz kids

My boyfriend was a bit of a whiz kid with computers from a young age. His interest in the 1980s BBC television show ‘Chock-A-Block’ developed a fascination with computers that essentially shaped his career in later life (he’s now an IT developer).

In fact, he recalls learning his alphabet via a keyboard and became more familiar with the letters in ‘qwerty’ format than his ABCs. Although this approach is perhaps unusual, it shows how quickly children can cotton on to a concept if it appeals to their interests.

In fact, a survey by AVG last year found that 69% of kids aged 2 to 5 can use a computer mouse, but only 11% can tie their shoes. Plus, apparently more of them know how to play a simple video game (over half), than can swim (a fifth).

I’m all for a healthy balance of traditional forms of play (make-believe, reading and of course outdoor games) but feel that balancing this with clever developments in technology will mean that kids are really tuned in to embracing technological change.

I sometimes wonder whether children are attracted to tech just because, it’s well, shiny. But perhaps more credit should be given to the manufacturers for creating such intuitive technology that’s literally as simple as child’s play.

Do you know a tech savvy toddler – what’s their favourite gadget? Do you think their interest in tech is a healthy part of their development or something you try to dissuade?


When I told my 6 year old daughter that there was a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, she responded that she would use Google Earth to find it!

That’s a lovely story. It’s a little sad that the pot of gold is probably at Goole HQ. 🙂

Can only say – it depends on the meaning of “toddler” – I was always amazed at the “geek” 11 year olds at school who were into programming – not just using a computer program – and found quite sophisticated sub routines to solve problems. Many of them now in the IT business. I assume this is to the benefit of the rest of us.

But the creative use of a cardboard use does often show how well overall creativity can be enhanced – whereas only realistic toys can limit creativity to much tighter boundaries.

Missed out Box in Cardboard —

Tracy Green says:
27 August 2012

Our little boy knew how to use an iPhone before he was 3. He’s now 7, has his own iPhone 4s, iPad, games condoles and Dsi and is very proficient using all of them.
He can also swim, read, write, spell & work with maths very well as well as enjoying social interaction like any ‘non techie’ child. His Dad is an iPhone developer so maybe he’s been influenced but not a bad thing in my opinion:-(

Sophie Gilbert says:
27 August 2012

No one, Eleanor Roosevelt says, can make me feel inferior without my consent, and that includes children.

One of the reasons children are generally so tech savvy (at a basic level anyway), is that they haven’t told themselves yet that they aren’t good at IT, a self-fulfilling psychological barrier I have seen lots of friends and colleagues put up themselves. Children don’t tell themselves either that they aren’t good at drawing, singing, languages, dancing…

My 6 year old nephew asked my mam one day, “Nana, did you have a Wii when you were a little girl?” and was quite perplexed when she explained that there was no such thing in the 1940s!

Argus says:
28 August 2012

It depends if you’re tech “savvy” yourself.

Also it depends if you use gadgets as a short cut to parenting. An iphone for example is a computer in its most basic form, if you give one to your child at 8 then you are conditioning them into believing that this brand is the be-all and end-all, when it clearly isn’t.

I actually think that a child having their own ipad/iphone/games console etc at 7 is tantamount to child abuse.

I would be more worried about theft and worse from a kid with expensive toys.

But what about Fisher Price brand loyalty?

Hi Argus, best to steer clear of making such comparisons. Thanks.

[Fixed the typo of your name Argus! 🙂 Thanks.]

Argus says:
28 August 2012

I will if you can get my name right 😉

Morag says:
31 August 2012

Child abuse? *snort*

If you think facilitating learning, communicating and being part of the real world and the future constitutes child abuse, then you are probably scared of technology and change which is actually quite sad. *sigh*

I suppose you had better send round social services as all of my (exceptionally gifted and talented and well adjusted) children use/have iPhones and iPads. 😉

Hi, it’s best if we tried to steer clear of referencing ‘child abuse’. Thanks.

Tracy says:
28 August 2012

Child abuse is in no way described by helping to develop your child’s skills and abilities; what an absurd suggestion.

As for theft, these items are used by our son in the house or car mainly for games and videos including educational aspects and he certainly isn’t ever on his own and at risk of these being stolen. I think some people are forgetting what the question was and need to be mindful that we live in a progressive technical world.

Argus says:
28 August 2012

Skills and abilities are not honed on an iPad or iPhone as they are simple and basic. If perhaps you gave them a laptop with a development environment I would agree

The acceleration rate of technological development just keeps on rising so today’s children will be out of date much sooner than my generation. I became out of date about ten years ago in my mid-fifties I suppose and I do marvel at the app-titude of the youngsters. Mind you, I could make mobile cranes and a cable-car system with my Meccano and put a new valve in the wireless. Pleased to see Lego is still an important part of infant development – teaches many important concepts useful in later life.

Recently, I watched my 3 year old nephew playing a game on my brother in law’s iPad. I asked him if I could have a go and he handed it over to me.

When I went to the start screen, I realised that all the commands were in Japanese, and that my nephew had worked out how to navigate the screens via what I presume was a process of deduction. Where I had felt completely lost and baffled without language to guide me, my nephew was clearly unfazed and worked out how to play.

While this may not be a brilliant example, I can’t help but think this was a positive lesson for him in logic, deduction, confidence and maybe even Japanese!