I enjoy a lot of the videos and stories that come through Mental Floss. I recently found this video about modern kids trying to work old technology and I think it has an important message for us besides the cuteness. I think it is an interesting example of applying technology skills.
I will say that, while historians often have to figure out what something is and how it was used without all the pieces, I think it’s unfair to do the same things to kids. It was unrealistic that they gave the kids Walkmans without all the pieces and asked them to figure out how it works when they don’t really have a lot of background to build on.
Take a Look
Applying Tech Skills
While I don’t really expect kids to quickly figure out old technology, I think this video does give a good example of children not displaying problem solving or absorbing tech knowledge. Those shortcomings have me worried today. Walkmans might not be part of their world, but most of the component parts, the commands of the buttons, speakers, headphones and their symbols are. The triangle to the right to play, square box to stop is still standard. For example, here the same symbols are used on the current Windows Media Player.
So they all should have recognized right away that it played something. They should also have recognized the image for headphones by the plug in which is also still standard on digital players.
The fact that these kids have most likely used a play button countless times in their lives and yet are unable to identify it in a slightly out of their normal context situation is disturbing indeed and suggests that the knowledge is situation specific and they have so far escaped without learning any true tech basics. They’ve learned “Do this, then do that” instead of this makes that happen because xxxxx. It’s a failure and shows once again that these aren’t digital natives yet, they are still digital second generation immigrants.
They Choose What They Knew
The fact that they all picked their own technology over the old isn’t surprising, people universally will prefer something they are familiar with, unless it has a cool factor. I would say it was interesting that one picked up on how many tapes you’d have to have to carry the same amount of music as his digital player, but they didn’t follow up how many do they really need? Can you really listen to 1000s of songs in a single trip to the store?
Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.