Please Tell Your Kids: That Magazine is Not a Broken iPad (UPDATED)

UPDATE: Don't miss the comments on this one. The story continues. Add your own thoughts!

Featured on BlogHer.comParent teaching kid at computer
You've probably seen the video by now, of a 1 year old baby trying to figure out how to use magazines. Apparently she thinks they should be as responsive as tablet computers. The video title is "A Magazine is an iPad that Doesn't Work".

I saw a number of people share and comment on this video last week. Many of them were saying that this new generation will never know traditional media or will learn to see beyond paper. It makes me picture a world where books are rare, sacred objects to which only an elite few have access. The idea of it saddens me.

I get frustrated when I hear parents of this new generation talk about the end of paper and books, implying the end of written history. Hubby and I are raising a member of that generation and he has far more books than he does computer programs, favourite websites and video games... combined.

I shared the video on Google Plus and my colleague Todd Lyons commented:
"Interesting, but more indicative of what the child has been exposed to than a compelling argument that written content is useless....The only 'digital natives' there are are those we choose to keep stranded on the digital island."
I had the exact same reaction. And I would even argue further that this generation will be just as effective in balancing the written word and the digital word as the last 2 generations who have grown up alongside new technologies (from TVs to PCs). Books are just the first step; if we focus our kids on digitally experiencing the world around them — instead of actually interacting with it — then they may quickly lose that sense of wonder when they experience something for the first time.

As parents, we are the first access point our children have to the world around them. If we choose to limit their exposure and concentrate on the shiny technical stuff, we might devalue our own history and culture in their eyes. We need to teach them balance between online and offline, the value of live interpersonal interactions, to appreciate what's around them, to go and be in the world, not a spectator behind a screen.

Think back to a moment of awe at seeing something with your own eyes or experiencing something for the first time. Your first roller coaster ride. Your first kiss. Receiving your own mail when you were a kid. Cracking the spine of a new book. Gingerly turning the pages of a very old used book. There's something magical about physically interacting with an object in that way. I may be a fan of tech, but I sincerely hope those physical experiences are never fully replaced by the online world.