This is my Blog, on it I simply write stuff that I feel like writing about. You'll find it heavily slanted towards tech, games, entertainment and the like. I write about other stuff too, and somethings I write about things. I also do photography, the link is on your right.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Come gather 'round people wherever you roam
And admit that the waters around you have grown
And accept it that soon you'll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin' or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'.

Here's a topic that seems to come up fairly often:  How soon is too soon for a child to have a cell phone, or a smart phone?  If you asked me even a few months ago, I would have said there's no way a kid has that much of a social life that they would need a cell phone.  I didn't have one when I was a kid, they didn't even exist, and we got along just fine.  I realise now, and I can't believe it has taken me this long, that this is an amazingly myopic view to hold.  What's happening now in our society is a kind of digital Darwinism.  We as a species have long since screwed up the whole concept of natural selection, the weak have just an equal of opportunity as the strong to pro-create.  However the concept as a whole is still sound, and always will be.  Now it has become about who can adapt easily and quickly to our seemingly break-neck speed of technological leapfrogging.  Life skills that were pertinent even a few short years ago, are completely irrelevant today.  Take cursive writing for example, I remember spending hour upon hour in school practising my "J's" to get them just right.  Now it's not even taught in schools, it kind of like calligraphy, a sort of quaint hobby.  Handwriting is outdated, and a virtually a useless skill.  Even entire thinking patterns have changed.  How many phone numbers do you memorise these days?  I know next to nobodies phone number, I don't have to know.  What I do need to know however, is how to quickly access that information.  That right there seems to be the zeitgeist.  There has been a subtle change in out thinking from collecting knowledge, to knowing how to access knowledge.  Ask any IT person, and they will tell you 90% of their job is simply Googling problems that users present to them.  They don't need to ever detail about every piece of software and hardware in the world, they can't.  All that they require is the skill is obtain, interpret, and implement the knowledge.  I don't mean to trivialise IT work, far from it.  Just saying it sounds easy, but in practise, it's extremely difficult, and requires a very specific set of skills.  Skills that we still are only scratching the surface of, and as we move on, will become more and more essential in every aspect of everybody's lives.

So, how soon should a child get a cell phone or smart phone?  I my opinion, they should get one as soon as they can understand the implications of what a smart phone can be capable of.  The skills to access, manipulate and utilise data should be given to them as soon as possible.  Trying to shelter children to the way the world works, simply because thats the way it was when you were young is doing them and incredible disservice, and leaves them at a terrible disadvantage.

The keystone to this entire thing however, is not yet in place.  That keystone is adults.  So many of us wander around with the latest shiny gadget and have no idea of the potential it harbours.  Instead we have $600 angry birds devices.  There's nothing intrinsically wrong with games, I love games, but that is only a small fraction of what these devices are going to become to us.  I currently hold the sum total of all of human knowledge in my pocket, and you probably do too. 

These devices are going to become, our communications, entertainment, wallet, learning tools, working tools, key's, shopping and even a great number of uses that haven't even been invented yet.  Don't believe me?  By this time next year, Canada will have an official digital currency, it's called the MintChip.

I don't know about you, but I don't want to get left behind, and old fossil with an irrelevant skill set.  It's still survival of the fittest, and you have to want you and your children to be the fittest, don't you?  If you do, all you need to remember is this:

the times they are a-changin'.


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