their latest research report predicts that over 50% of the computers purchased for children will have touchscreens by 2015. In this case, Gartner defines children as those under the age of 15 or, as we like to call them, "Generation I." (This is the new, hipper terminology for children of the 2000's once dubbed "Generation Z" or "digital natives.") They're the ones born into a world where computers and cellphones are introduced as baby toys, where the iPod has always existed and where everyone they know can be found on Facebook. And now, it seems, they're going to grow up with computers in an entirely different way, too.The analysts at Gartner must have been fairly impressed with the Apple iPad because
As a new parent myself, I'm simultaneously fascinated and fearful of the way technology has infiltrated our lives. My four-month-old loves to "color" on the iPad. (If only I had recorded that! I could have made Techmeme!) But on the other hand, I worry that one day she'll prefer her virtual touchscreen to crayons and blank paper. I wonder about the implications of bedtime stories read on a cold, metallic device instead of selected from a packed shelf of favorite books - tangible objects that can be grasped by little hands, objects which have a feeling of permanence in this world. Will the child who grows up playing on an iPad still enjoy a family game night of fold-out boards, plastic pieces and dice? Will she ever learn to shuffle a deck of cards?
When the computer was just a screen, keyboard and mouse, it remained, for all its usefulness, a tool. A means to an end. It was something you used at work, a replacement for pen and ink, a way to communicate with others in far off places, but ultimately, it was just a thing. Now, thanks to the mobile web, tablets and yes, Apple and their iToys, the computer isn't just a thing anymore. It's an everything. 160,000 applications and counting in the iTunes App Store with new iPad apps being added every day. The iPad can replace any real-world object you own: a book, a music player, a TV set, a DVD player, a coloring book, a board game, an artist's canvas, a notepad, a DJ's turntable, a globe, a map and so on.
And for the children being born into this new digital age, it will.
Whether or not the analysts at Garnter are right on the money about the percentages and timeframe in which this occurs - in addition to their guesstimates about touchscreen adoption, they're predicting over half of U.S. schools will specify touch and/or pen input within the next 5 years - they have at least pegged this trend accurately. Touch is the future.
And you, with your clickety-clackety keyboard and push-button mouse will be the "old fogie" whining about how you just can't adapt to typing on glass.