My Techno Boy

Rebecca Nelson Lubin
guest column Last week I wrote about a family I still occasionally Nanny for that shuns all media and many of you wrote in really great comments about the need for balance of some form of media in the home, and I agree. It occurred to me this week, as I watched the four year old boy of my full time job navigate my new Droid phone better than I am currently capable of doing, that there is another aspect to exposing children to media and technology - that this is the wave of the future – and these small people will someday be the adults that will ride that wave - and carry it further. We are living in a time of a great technological explosion. I may be an old school forty-something, who still refers to my iPod as my Walkman, and I love a good old-fashioned book (God, they smell so good) more than the notion of a Kindle, but the writing is on the wall. The school calendar is now online. We get more evites to birthday parties than snail mail envelopes. If I want to explain the nuances of a Bugs Bunny cartoon I YouTube it for the children. I got a friend request on my boss’ website, A Band of Wives, today from a woman I have never met, but based on her profile, I was moved to invite her for a hike on Mt Tam for some Saturday soon. My ten-year-old charge has the option of doing his nightly assigned reading on his iPhone through a program set up through iTunes. When my charges want to see their maternal grandmother, we set up a Skype date. Technology is everywhere, and it is up to us, the adults, to encourage the children in our lives to ride with it.

My little four-year-old charge has always loved my cell phones that have come to work with me. When he was a baby, and cranky in his stroller on our daily walks, I would hand him my phone and let him push the buttons. As he grew, my cell phones evolved, and now, I have embarked on a smart phone, and he is in heaven. We downloaded apps the first week. The first three were entirely based on fart-based entertainment. He became completed enveloped in “Whoopee Cushion”, “Pull My Finger” and “Fart Sound Board.” I dare you to show me a four-year-old boy, or any boy for that matter, that does not delight in Fart Jokes. As the weeks rolled by, we found actual applications that we could use for educational purposes. Now as we drive from school to the market and home, I hear him playing with letter sounds and math programs. This week, he figured out how to navigate through my media gallery, and scroll through the photographs and videos I have stored. Verizon, my carrier, rules among cell phone providers, and have transferred my old videos from four old phones now to my current device, and he has been having a fine time viewing old videos of himself at 12 and 18 months, stumbling while trying to walk and stumbling over his first senate structuring. When I picked him up from preschool today he asked me to hold an impromptu screening of him on his older brother’s battery operated quad, engineering a perfect 180 degree donut in their cul de sac. His schoolmates were awestruck. As we drove to the market for fixing for our apple pie afternoon baking project, I listened to him navigate from applications to videos to pictures, all the while holding a constant monologue with me on his progress. I love his techno savvy. Except for one aspect. Tonight, upon arriving from work at my boyfriend’s house, I discovered that the four year old had somehow set Facebook as my homepage, and when I tried to re-set it, I ended up deleting my entire homepage. Frustrated, I turned my phone off.

“Oh well” I said to my boyfriend, “I’ll give my phone to the child on Monday, he can figure it out.”
Rebecca Nelson Lubin is a writer and Nanny who resides in the San Francisco Bay Area. You may read more of her articles at


Lola said...

Nice article this week, Rebecca. :) I was wondering specifically which applications you have on your phone for educational play. I use an android phone too and want some games for my daughter who, by the way, figured out the phone within a day and now has far surpassed my abiities on it! She even tutors me on its features! lol ;)

Rebecca said...

Hey guys I found a typo. It should read that at 18 months he was stumbling over his first SENTENCE structuring, not SENATE structuring. The boy is smart but he ain't that smart!

Lola - I'll get back to you on the educational aps. My phone is still turned off!