A few weeks ago while visiting my family over the Thanksgiving holiday I spent some quality time with my seven year-old cousin. He and I have always had a special relationship—every time I come home for a visit he can’t wait to show me what he’s learned in school or debut his newest toy. I even helped him complete his first jig saw puzzle. I like to think that I’m the “cool” adult in the family, introducing him to new things while being way more relatable than his parents.
But during this most recent trip we engaged in a rousing family-wide Wii tournament and I realized how far off base I was. It all started when I bowled my first Wii gutter ball and he fixed me with a disdained look and announced, “You bowl worse than Granny.” By the time he helped me navigate the complex world of Blu-Ray, it was clear that any cool cache I had was long gone. At seven years old, he has mastered the world of technology in a way I fear I never will. And this got me thinking—his generation has grown up in the age of iPhones, netbooks and e-readers. It’s no surprise that he is so much more savvy than me, a child of the landline and desktop-if-you’re-lucky generation.
I wonder how the ease with which he embraces all things tech will impact other milestone experiences in his life. For example, will he be homesick on his first foray to sleep away camp or will he feel connected to his parents and extended family by his omnipresent cell phone? Will the GPS sensor on his parents’ SUV make his first attempt at parallel parking far less nerve racking than mine was in a regular old station wagon? And will he have the same sense of nervous anticipation at meeting his freshman roommate if they’ve already friended each other on Facebook?
It will be interesting to see how it all plays out. In the meantime, I’ll be practicing my Wii skills in preparation for my next trip home.
-Contributed by Kate Finigan. Follow her @PRKateFin