Kids on mobile devices ~ an infographic look

Kid tech, according to Apple Infographic Image source

It is no major surprise that kids in western civilisation have embraced tablet technology as part of their lives. What I am surprised by is that HALF of first-time iPod/iPad users are under the age of 5. Ease of use and entertainment would be a big part in this. Apps are designed to be easy, a touch screen requires basic fine motor skills. So many apps are educational, it’s an exploding market. Kids want one, my own kids like to fling out statements such as ‘everybody has one’ (To which I reply: ‘everybody except you,’ haha — although it is not, of course, literally everybody, it just feels that way…).

I taught in a Special Education unit and the iPad was a fantastic skill for students who did not have the fine motor skills to hold a pen (nor ever will have) yet they could trace their fingertip along a line on the touch screen, which prompted a reaction and reward.

There is no doubt these devices will be amazing tools. I still have qualms, though, for my own kids in this digital generation. I haven’t bought them devices. I am wary of the addiction and reliance and I so want them to enjoy their childhoods outdoors, being creative and not needing to be plugged in all the time. I, myself, do not have a ‘smart’ mobile phone (it just makes calls and sends texts). I want to consciously be in the moment I am in, not wondering what is happening with my friends lives on social media. I have an obsessive personality and I am holding out as long as possible 🙂

With how far mobile technology has come to being an integral part of our daily lives I often wonder what it will look like for the next generation, and the generation after that? I think it is pretty amazing, that we are living in such exciting times (I remember thinking Get Smart’s shoe phone was incredible, lol). I also think I have responsibility to use the devices in such a way that they add quality of life, and not become something that detracts from it.

What is popular with young people? A Pinterest Board

This week’s blogging task was to investigate ‘what is popular with young people’ and present our findings visually on a pinterest board. To do that, I had to first join pinterest…

I have stayed blissfully ignorant about Pinterest. My impression of it has come from my (addicted) facebook mum-friends who use the site to pin gourmet lunchbox snack ideas (the mums who make these lunches are a whole different breed of species to me), 1001 ways a piece of string and cotton ball can amuse toddlers, and how to blitz-clean your house in an hour flat. Not really my scene, tbh :).

I (briefly) lamented on twitter that I was having to join the Pinterest crowd — and had a swift number of replies from authors telling me I would love it (nay, even become addicted!) and that they use it for writing inspiration (replacing old school magazines cut and paste jobs).

It took two minutes to join. Two more minutes to figure out how to make a board. Pinning was ridiculously easy. I downloaded the toolbar. Downloaded the free app. And then I found some author boards…

On the Jellicoe Road Book Cover by paigereader. (Flickr image, CC BY-NC 2.0)

SERIOUSLY once I found some of my favourite authors were on there I was in heaven. Melina Marchetta pins about the shows she’s been watching (my to-watch list has significantly grown), gorgeous location inspiration for the upcoming Jellicoe Road move (major squee!), favourite actors and all kinds of novel/character writing inspiration. All of a sudden, Pinterest has become my kind of place.

Once semester finishes I plan lose myself in there (I feel sheepish for my earlier Pinterest snobbery) and I am excited for such a great resource to collect so many favourite places and things — and for a place to be inspired by those who inspire me. But for now, I have created the board for this task.

 The board I created focuses on boys and girls in primary school (grades 3-7).

Popular culture is constantly changing and evolving and then flipping back on itself, reincarnating or borrowing from retro times. Marsh and Millard (2000) talk about how children’s popular culture has so many diverse artefacts, such as: toys, games, comics, stickers, cards, jokes, word play and accessories. “The list is not prescriptive: children’s popular culture forms are constantly emerging and disappearing (p.20)”

I found it really interesting to spot patterns with my pins and have roughly grouped them into four kinds of popular culture…

Popular in 2013: popular culture that’s survived (or morphed) for decades. Image: my collage from pinterest collection

1) Popular culture that has survived, morphed or reincarnated from years ago

Star Wars, Lego, Superman, Super Mario Bros, Marvel comic characters and Doctor Who are all popular now. These were all around in my childhood, a generation ago. Though superman didn’t look as sleek, and Marvel have boosted their franchise with the Avengers. Lego is a childhood staple, but it also mirrors popular culture, creating sets that match popular movies and books (like Harry Potter and The Hobbit Lego). The original trilogy Star Wars movies are just as loved today, as is George Lucas’s new animated series The Clone Wars (a Star Wars spin-off).

2) Popular activities/fads

Girls love the clapping hands games, with rhymes and multi-player rhymes. At the moment magic tricks are the “in thing” at my local primary school – in particular, card tricks. The difference this time is that many students are learning card tricks by following youtube channels. So much easier to watch and perfect than deciphering a book. Elastics are a game I played as a girl and I am happy to see them on the cusp of making a comeback. And I think handball is a childhood staple 🙂

3) Popular culture that involves current technology

Popular culture that involves technology image credit: my collage created from my pinterest board

Gaming and iOs devices are such a thriving market and kids are loving it. Not many kids are into social networking (yet) but instagram and skype are the popular recurring ones. In fact, most kids prefer to Skype than to call on the phone. My childhood version of these iOS games was my hand-held Tetris game. Mate, how I wracked up major high scores on that thing, lying in bed at night listening to Blur and Oasis 🙂

4) Things that are unique to this generation

Popular culture unique to this generation Image credit: my collage from pinterest board

TV shows, movies, books, singers, bands and merchandise that kids are unique to this era: Bajo and Hex on Good Game SP, Taylor Swift, One Direction, Adventure Time, Andy Griffiths (I think his books are perfectly pitched at kids to be timeless :)), Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Minions and ABC3 (I remember when KRudd “pushed the button” to launch the channel in 2009) These may last for a generation (or beyond? I hope Smiggle does! That shop is way too addictive!)

One thing on my board which I have not put in a collage is ZOMBIES and THE APOCALYPSE. Zombies have always been around (haha) but now they are pretty huge. I witnessed an adult friend being tackled on the weekend by a herd of kids, who jumped on him, chanting “brains! brains! brains!’ – even toddlers know what’s up…

ALSO: Classroom teachers who may be interested: One year nine art teacher blogs about her classroom experience with Pinterest. Worth your while ()if you end up becoming a Pinner — (is that the lingo?)

Marsh, J & Millard, E. (2000) Literacy and Popular Culture: Using children’s culture in the classroom. London: SAGE.