When my husband and I moved in together, we had a lot of duplicate stuff. From kitchen appliances to furniture, we sorted through the doubles and picked our favorite pieces, then donated or trashed the rest. And the same was true when it came to gadgets that we didn’t really need two of. My much older digital camera was pretty useless next to my husband’s much nicer and newer one. What do you do with an old digital camera? I gave it to my toddler.
Yup, my four-year-old has her own digital camera. She’s extremely protective of it and takes very good care of it. She enjoys the fact that she owns something that she knows is fragile and expensive. She likes to bring it to special events and take pictures, then we uploadthem when we got home. Sometimes I throw them in Picasa and let her play around with the editing. I really don’t feel like I’m spoiling her with this.
Unfortunately, not everyone agrees with me. I’ve had multiple people ask me why I would give my daughter something that she could so easily break. I’ve been asked if it’s an “appropriate” toy for her to play with. I’ve gotten a whole lot of side-eye. I always find the questions uncomfortable, because I realize that my daughter is playing with something I had to beg my parents to get as a birthday present when I was a teenager. Brenna got one before she even hit pre-school.
And it’s not just digital cameras, which will soon be obsolete anyways given the phones we’re buying these days. When I bought my laptop, I wasn’t considering a career that would leave me writing on it all day long. I have a decent computer, but it is by no means ideal for my new job working online. I bought this computer when I still went to an office every day and did data analysis. In the next year, I’ll probably replace this with a smaller, nicer machine. It’ll be a tax write-off. (Yay!) Guess who will get my current computer?
I know I’m not alone. My brother-in-law recently got a new iPad and gave his old generic tablet to his six-year-old daughter. She plays games and watches movies on it. The couple have gotten plenty of shock from people who just can’t believe that a child that young would have their own tablet computer. But once again, my niece was getting her dad’s hand-me-downs.
The tech industry updates every couple of years anymore. Adults are cycling through phones, computers and e-readers at a truly alarming rate. My mother owns a Macbook, iPad, Kindle, Blackberry and Camcorder. She’s not even a huge tech devotee. Of course last year’s models are getting passed down somewhere and it makes sense that we’re letting our kids have them at a younger and younger age. Sure some of these devices come with necessary data plans, but some of them are completely free. And some parents are so used to insane bills from AT&T that they just don’t mind the extra $30 for their child to have their own iPhone or tablet.
Tech toys have been this huge symbol of spoiled children for a while now. Remember how much fun we had making fun of kids who didn’t get iPhones for Christmas complaining on Twitter? But the honest fact is that gadgets are more prevalent, more diverse and more accessible than ever before. A child with something from the Apple store just isn’t the height of privilege that it used to be. And kids with cell phones or iPads aren’t automatically spoiled brats.
It would be really great if I could stop getting glares or insults whenever my daughter pulls her little Powershot out of her La La Loopsy purse. I realize that it looks a little odd. But I think it’s a sight that we’re all going to need to get more comfortable with. We live in a digital age. Children are going to become more adept with technology than ever before. There’s no problem with parents embracing that fact and even sharing last year’s model with their little ones.