CNN.com recently posted an article “Kids Try Video Playdates.” The long and short of it is that as technology to stay in touch improves (AKA Skype), the people who utilize the technology are younger and younger. They give examples of children who skype with grandparents as well as kids who have playdates with other kids on Skype. Primarily the examples given were kids who moved away staying in touch with old friends, or kids having playdates with kids of their parent’s friends who live far away. One mom expresses the desire for her child to have Skype playdates with kids in other countries to broaden their horizons.
The comments are what you might expect…complaints about the entitlement, alienation (although at no point was it made to sound like the kids didn’t interact with other real live kids as well as their online pals), and the general prediction that childhood is dead and the world (TM) has ended.
I say bollocks to them.
Last night Elanor was involved with Skyped conversations with her grandparents and one of my dearest friends, Kate. She lights up when she sees them–reaching to the screen to try and take the toy her grandparents are offering or to touch her grandfather’s nose. She bounced with delight when she saw Kate, one of her favorite grownups back home.
Reading the article, it ocurred to me that the only reason I haven’t set her up on a Skype Playdate is that she’s still quite young for actual interaction. At best she does parallel play (or hey I want that, and steals it). But if she were two years older, I would certainly be asking my friends who have kids in her age range to set something up.
Honestly, I would have been so much more interested and invested in the whole pen pal thing if we’d had email or Skype. If we do continue to live outside the US, Skype is what will allow Elanor to maintain relationships with the kids she has known (A or K’s sons) or that I’d like her know (like S’s daughter).
It strikes me that E wouldn’t be part of this cutting edge technology if we hadn’t moved. Why have an online playdate if we can just meet up at the Discovery Museum? But since necessity has set us up for this sort of thing, I think both she and her friends will benefit. Or at least, I hope they will.