Check out a fascinating article, When Your Kid Tries to Say ‘Alexa’ Before Mama, in the November 27, 2017 Washington Post. Tech reporter Hayley Tsukayama describes how a young child responds to the Alexa voice assistant in his house, calling out her name before learning his mom’s. She also writes about the personal voice assistant universe and expert opinions.
I am not sure what to think and, yes, it is amusing.
Yet I keep wondering whether digital toys and devices, especially those that talk, tend to distract babies and toddlers as they go about learning words and begin to carry on a basic conversation. Babies are hard-wired to learn the language that their parents speak — the words, the pitch, the intonation — and it seems like inserting digital conversations into the equation could slow down the process, or at least not be helpful. Twenty-first Century life is becoming more complex for every age as we sail nonstop into an increasingly digital world.
Summer 2017 is here, and as we enjoy family fun, outdoor activities, trips to museums and historical sites, vacations, and all sorts of camps and special programs, it’s also important to discover activities that will help 21st Century children use screen time creatively and wisely.
So with less frenetic schedules and no school, use the summer months to collaborate — that’s parents and kids doing things together. Adults can learn more about the digital whirl that’s such a huge part of young people’s 21st Century lives, and kids can engage in meaningful, creative, and interesting projects — and even have fun working with their parents. The pay-off? Everyone will figure out more about digital life and add variety to the types of digital activities that they typically do.
Below are 12 family digital project summer suggestions — all work best if people work together — to consider for summer 2017.
Many years ago, at a conference on the campus of Virginia Tech, I entered a virtual reality (VR) area — I think it was called “the cave” — with all sorts of things going on around me. I think I was expecting the holodeck from Star Trek, where they went through a door and suddenly found themselves on vacation in a beautiful and peaceful place (check out what Virginia Tech’s video that describes virtual reality and the holodeck). Instead during my first foray into VR I wore big goggles, and I got a bit dizzy. So I’ve been a bit hesitant to try again.
Since it’s National Poetry Month, I decided to write a few amusing verses about digital kids and the connected world. You are welcome to attach this poem, with attribution, to any new device that a member of your family receives. Enjoy!
Congrats on acquiring a new mobile device,
Have fun working and playing, but here’s some advice.
With your friends or relations who, like you, love the web
You’ll connect with so much, you’ll feel like a celeb!
But remember! When you work, play, or hangout online,
You must understand when you need to decline.
Kids often forget while using devices
That it’s easy to get caught in another kid’s vices.
Written by Perry Klass, M.D., a pediatrician and long-time writer, the Times article reminds parents to put down their phones when they interact with their 21st Century children, and it emphasizes the importance of any time that a child spends away from digital devices.
Despite the wonders and access that our mobile phones and other connected world devices bring to our lives, screen-free time is essential in a child’s life as well as for an adult. Klass suggests five phone-free times that she considers sacred, though she points out that she is not always successful in her quest. Check out the article.
I have known six people whose families were forced to move into United States government Japanese internment camps. It’s been an honor for me and my family to listen to their stories — though not always easy to hear about or imagine the cruelty they experienced. The internment, a reaction to the war with Japan and called an evacuation by the United States government, began in 1942 and essentially imprisoned more than 117,000 people. Two-thirds of them were born as American citizens and over half were children,
February 19th, the day in 1942 that President Roosevelt signed an executive order known as the internment order, is a Day of Remembrance in many states. Educators and parents can use the day to understand more — and help 21st Century children learn more — about the internment of Japanese families during World War II. Today, as we deal with the challenges of increasing diversity in the United States and recognize our immigrant history, it’s more important than ever to understand what happened and why the United States now recognizes the internment policy as a mistake.