Aug 14, 2010

Baby invents social networking strategy on iPad

I was riding in the back seat of a Jetta in Chicago traffic, with my 18-month-old granddaughter in her car seat on my left and my son on my right. He had handed her his iPad with an app for babies -- by touching the pad she could make letters and numbers show up, and make them bigger or smaller or dance around by touching them in different ways.

She seemed to have accidentally exited the game, so she handed the iPad to her daddy, who touched the game's icon, opened it up and gave it back to her. After that happened a few times and they passed the toy across me, I decided to help her. It didn't take long to see how to swipe the icons across, find the distinctive and recognizable one for the game and return it to her. Yes, the iPad is indeed very intuitive to use. But I asked my son why the game kept closing on her, and he showed me the spot on the iPad frame that exits apps.

Then I caught on to her strategy. She was closing the game on purpose, so she could get dad's attention and involve him in her own iPad social interaction strategy -- apparently one that was much more satisfying than playing a silly alphabet game some geeky educator had designed to keep her occupied.

Babies invent new strategies constantly. I wish it was easy to get to that state of open play where new ideas are the best.


Mark Welch said...

It's something how with all the high tech gadgetry we've created our basic need to be engaged with each other still remains strong, as your granddaughter makes so clear even before she is at the age of verbalizing it. I have real concerns about where we are headed as a people as we become more high tech and less touch. We probably won't really understand this for decades, but for me personally, there are times when I get tired of shooting off emails and I just go see people - even when it might not seem like the Lean thing to do. Being face to face, building a relationship has value that can't be measured.

Unknown said...

I have to agree with you Mark, although I have gotten to know a lot of people online -- like you -- I never would have found otherwise. But I have been trying more to make phone meeting appointments with colleagues or to suggest coffee or lunch. Be sure to let me know next time you're in Detroit and we'll get together.

Scott Sorheim said...

Somewhat related: I saw part of a great series on PBS on Saturday called "This Emotional Life" ( which stressed the tremendous need for human interaction, particularly in the developing years in life, and how just having physical needs met (citing studies of Russian orphanages among others) does not meet our every need. The case was made that a huge need for human interaction must be met, and may be even greater than the need for basic physical needs.

Although I love technology, I greatly prefer human interactions over technological social interactions. I suspect there are probably a lot of people today that risk real emotional connectedness by attempting to meet that need through technological sources.

Unknown said...

Scott, thanks for mentioning "This Emotional Life." I think it did a fantastic job explaining what's been learned about us as humans with complex brains, important for our emotions as much as our intellect. I think the effectiveness of our "networking" is only as good as our willingness to escalate those relationships into conversations and being available to help and support each other. Isn't that one of the greatest ways to keep us motivated to stick with things like lean, when we know others who are struggling and occasionally succeeding just like we are?

If you're interested in the need for connection in early life, you might want to read John Bowlby's foundational work on attachment. He started by studying young children who had been deprived of parental care in WWII. I think that was mentioned in the TV program.

I should say that my granddaughter has very involved parents and is one of the happiest little girls you'll ever see. Her mom is her fulltime caregiver and her dad fully shares in both the messy and the fun parts of parenting. Obviously, she's confident that she can succeed in getting attention when she wants it. Just ask her at 3:30 am.

The PBS website followup to This Emotional Life is very effective and includes webinars and a newsletter. Worth a look.

Scott Sorheim said...

Hi Karen,

Yes, I thought later that I meant to mention that by no means was I implying that your granddaughter may be one of the children that is disconnected! Sorry if that implication came across in my comment. It was clear to me that was not what you were communicating. I suspect you wouldn't have even shared the story if you really thought there was a problem! Thanks for sharing it. Your article just triggered a connection to the show I saw on Saturday.

Thanks for the resources.

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