Geek in training…

The younger set continues to get more and more computer savvy, as more and more products continue to flood the market (and by younger set I mean toddlers!). Have we reached the point yet where the A/V club is also going to include a Sys Admin position? I hope so. I hope it reaches even earlier than that. I want my daughter to be wandering around her preschool class troubleshooting Fisher Price laptop issues (“…have you dropped it recently? try restarting your machine…”). Anyhow, here’s a great article a saw this morning in the Technology section of Enjoy:

Published: November 29, 2007

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 28 — Cell phones, laptops, digital cameras and MP3 music players are among the hottest gift items this year. For preschoolers.

Toy makers and retailers are filling shelves with new tech devices for childrenClickStart ages 3 and up, and sometimes even down. They say they are catering to junior consumers who want to emulate their parents and are not satisfied with fake gadgets.

Consider the “hottest toys” list on , which includes the Easy Link Internet Launch Pad from Fisher-Price (to help children surf on “preschool-appropriate Web sites”) and the Smart Cycle, an exercise bike connected to a video game…

Of course there are sections of the article that express concern about the amount of technology available to children. The dangers and risks of developing a sedentary lifestyle or failing to develop the ability to think creatively. Once again though, as parents it is our responsibility to make sure that these toys are used in moderation. Set time for technology, set time for outside play and exercise. Come one people it’s not rocket science. But I digress. Back to our story…

Eric Jorgensen, a programmer at Microsoft, has invented PixelWhimsy, a computer program that allows toddlers to sit at a regular computer and bang away on the keys to create sounds and colors and shapes, but without damaging the computer.

Asmin Jalis, who also works at Microsoft and whose 2-year-old boy, Ibrahim, has been using PixelWhimsy, said his son liked it better than his toy computer. “We have a toy laptop for him, and he knows it’s a fake,” he said.

As soon as I’m finished with this post I’m going to check out PixelWhimsy, because my daughter LOVES banging on our computer keyboard (particularly while we’re using it) and this sounds like the perfect solution.

In the meantime, click here if you want to read the full NYT article.

Happy Holidays!