Generation Swipe: What Toddlers Know That We Don’t?

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Generation swipe is about an entire generation of toddlers and kids who understand  devices and technology better than most of us do.

My nephew was only two when he discovered iPad and fell in love with it. The mere mention of the word ‘iPad’ would bring a smile on his face. It’s interesting to observe how toddlers use technology so I decide to see for myself how he uses his iPad.

He only uses a single app on iPad which is YouTube and spends rest of his time swiping down to clear used apps. If the wifi is turned off he returns the iPad to you which is the best way to reduce his playtime. At times, he also says ‘it’s not working’ to check whether you can fix it for him.

What’s really amusing is how he finds ‘YouTube’ between all the other apps installed on iPad. As it requires swiping once and then clicking on a group and then finally clicking on ‘YouTube’ app icon to launch the app. If I would have asked my mom to do the same chances are that she would have taken more time to complete the same task or would have said “don’t you have better things do in life” which kind of can be a topic for a separate article on the blog.

Research has shown that toddlers generally prefer bold, primary colors and high contrasts in graphic layouts that evoke exploration and discovery compared to other colors. I presume that in this case, he is looking for the dark red color which is little difficult to miss in this case.

He discovered Skype few months back and now occasionally asks his parents to skype me if he gets bored doing his regular set of activities. A 2013 study in the research journal Child Development has highlighted that webcam-like interaction with loved ones can help young children form bonds and learn new words. It certainly doesn’t replace the physical presence of a person but it helps to build a connection with the toddler as they tend to forget faster.

Toddlers are captivated by contingency. They are fascinated by the iPad in the same way they enjoy throwing something on the floor after you’ve picked it up the hundredth time. They see something happen as a result of their behavior. And unlike the action and reaction of a traditional computer, using an iPad is much more intuitive. Anyone with a finger can do it—literally even a baby.

Generation Swipe: Swipe of a thumb

Generation Swipe is really about the brutal simplicity that you need to make use of while creating applications.

In fact, Sean Rad, founder of Tinder, said “that an app is really an analogue for what we do in the real world. But in fact, it is the polar opposite. Users are protected from the sting of rejection; the ability to control interactions is worlds apart from the glorious mess of real life.”

Oliver Roup founder of VigLink says that “They engage in micro slices, eight seconds at a time. You know they’d be happy to engage today, but you have to re-convince them tomorrow”

Moving beyond screen time

For parents who wouldn’t want YouTube to turn a digital babysitter for the toddler, they need to move beyond screen time and focus on apps that are integrated to support learning, check for content that is appropriate to age group and also check for the total screen time involved.

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