Saturday, 2 June 2012

Generational Eclipse

I reckon that for most of humanity's existence, regardless of time or geographic location, children have played similar types of games.  I bet hide and seek hasn't changed too much in the gazillion years that kids have played it.  Nor has tag, skipping (even some of the songs are still around) or Red Rover - or whatever it was called where you come from.

But yesterday, I overheard my eleven year old son, Ian, talking to a group of friends on Skype about a new server location for an online game.  One kid was passing out an IP address and inviting all the others to join him on this new server for a group adventure.

Really?  Skyping to get a new server for an online game.  Did I mention he's eleven?!

Now I'm not a
Luddite.  I work in IT as a software engineer and my husband's work is computer based so we use computers all the time.  In fact, we have so many of them at home - both desktops and laptops - that each of us has a selection of which one we're going to use (this isn't consumerism gone wild, its an inability to throw out something that still works).  So I guess it shouldn't come as any surprise that my kid is comfortable with computers.  

What does surprise me is that beyond showing him which was the Skype icon on the desktop, I never taught him how to do any of this.  I didn't teach him how to add contacts to his account, nor have I ever taught him what a server is or how to connect to one - not to mention what credentials are.  I've never told him about distributed architecture, cloud computing or whatever is coming next.  
He just seems to understand it.  I'm amazed that I can stop reading my e-book (e-book - wow, what will they think of next) at one place, and open the book on my phone the next day (remember when a phone was mounted to the wall and all it did was make a telephone call?) and the bookmark has updated and is in the same place.  I think this is amazing.  Just one small step removed from magic - but my son shrugs and says "Well, why wouldn't it update?"  Contrast this with my mother, who struggles with the idea of moving email messages from one folder to another.

I know that each generation is destined to eclipse the abilities of the one which came before, but honestly, I'm not ready to be eclipsed just yet.

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