A bunch of 7-9 year olds in North Carolina were recently given the task of “designing” the perfect laptop. As someone who works in educational technology I’m finding some of the drawings these kids came up with quite interesting and more than a tad disconcerting.
Looking at these designs, it seems that the commercial and pop culture side of the web is hands down beating anything educational for these kids. To these kids, the web is a place where you buy things, play games, catch up on pop culture news and connect with friends.
Not surprisingly, almost every kid has a Games button, but what I find most fascinating is how attuned these 7-9 year olds are to consumer culture, marketing and pop culture. There are designs with buttons labeled “Buy”, “Shop” and “Order”, reflecting the fact that, to these kids buying things online is a perfectly natural extension of going online. Compare that to 10-15 years ago when e-commerce was still met with skepticism by many. To these Millennial, it is just part of their everyday life.
There are also buttons rife with pop culture references, like Webkniz and Barbie.com, and lots of gadget buttons. iPod, cell phone, video camera buttons, reflecting the ubiquity of electronic devices in kids lives. I’m sure it has been stated by someone somewhere, but it seems self evident that their generation will be the most documented in history.
I’m disheartened to find a lack of buttons to things like “dinosaurs” or buttons labeled National Geographic Kids or NASA Kids. It’s sad to think that well done information sites aimed at kids are losing out to Webkinz and Barbie. But I suppose if we had the same exercise with College level students we would probably see more Facebook and YouTube than their college library buttons.
One kid, bless ’em, did include a magical button that I am sure every parent would occasionally like to have on their keyboard – “babysitter”.
You can see some of the drawings these kids did at The Morning News site. If you want to read the original blog post (no photos, but more info on the laptop club), parent.thesis family blogger Amy Tiemann had the original post on CNet.