Next week, we will celebrate our girl’s 5th month of age. And I am thinking about what present to buy her — to mark this important step in life. It is not an easy task, to find something safe and stimulating for such a small baby. An iPad, suggests someone, could be a good idea. But no, I will not buy her an iPad for her 5th month.
The fact is
The fact is, our daughter already got her own iPad (an iPad mini, actually) once she turned 3 months old. And since then, they are inseparable. She watches her favorite cartoons (she loves Tinga Tinga tales, a BBC animated series produced in Kenya, and inspired by Tanzania’s tingatinga painting style). Often, she likes to play piano. Most of the times, she loves to discover the many combinations of the touch pad: I should admit that I did discover some functions of the iPad, thanks to her trials and errors.
Better than her grandmas
Just to say, if you play a different cartoon than Tinga Tinga, she would start to complain: she knows exactly what she wants. And she learned quite soon that touching the screen when YouTube is on would not be a good idea (the video pauses, or gets smaller), whereas she really enjoys tapping on the screen when the piano app is there! At four months, she was already managing her iPad better than her own grandmothers.
Yes, I know, there is a lot of psychological terrorism out there, telling you that so small babies should not get to interact with such evil devices. Some people looked at me with a look of deep disapproval, once I told them, with some pride, how skilled is our girl with her iPad. Some other explained me — with a very serious tone of voice — that our girl will grow intellectually impaired due to the use of a touch screen before the age of four (years, not months!). There is this article, which inspired many of these concerned parents: “Infants ‘unable to use toy building blocks’ due to iPad addiction” (click on the title to read it, if you really want to see some modern Luddism!)
I got my first computer when I was in primary school. A fantastic Sinclair ZX Spectrum, equipped with 16 kilobyte of memory: a beautiful machine! You had to connect it to a cathode television screen via the antenna cable, and any tape recorder could serve as hard drive. It was prehistory. Some radios were broadcasting, during the night, video games and other simple software (written in Basic): the broadcast was a modulated audio file, which you had to record on tape, and then to play again connecting the recorder to the internal modem of the Spectrum. Well, it is a bit complicate to explain, maybe. I was a primary school pupil, in the nineteen-eighties, and I knew exactly how the whole process was working. (Watch the video below, to get an idea of what I mean!)
I have a PhD in nuclear physics
Today I have a PhD in nuclear physics, I earn a decent salary, and I have a highly qualified job in a world leading research laboratory. My job? To perform computer-based complex nuclear physics calculations. I can tell you: if I did not have had my ZX Spectrum — when I was a child — probably I would be doing something else, now, in life.
I cannot just imagine which connections are creating in the fast growing brain of our girl, every time she taps her little fingers on the screen of the iPad. She is learning a new logic, since the day she got it in her hands. A logic which was not available to any of us.
When we learn things, we do it starting from the paths and connections that are already established in our brain. Established when we are young. From even before being born, while in mamma’s tummy. Learning, for adults, is painful. For babies, as easy as drinking their milk.
Tomorrow, our girl will be at the edge of knowledge.
Your non-technological babies will not.
By the way, despite what the journalist of The Telegraph says: I loved to play with Lego too. I have been always very good at building futuristic spacecrafts. And I still do.