Yesterday on a walk to work, I caught up on my podcasts and listened to MacBreak Weekly’s episode #205. The hosts mentioned that though Apple had made some significant changes to and had released new iMacs, the front page of the Apple website still features iPhone 4. It seemed like the new desktop Macs didn’t warrant a major announcement by Apple and that Apple is still focusing on mobile computing more than traditional computing.
That got me thinking: Le petit has already been engaging with computers and the web although he is not even quite 2 years old. He’s already meeting his grandparents across Canada via Skype on a regular basis, he has a French children’s program/songs playlist that we’ve earmarked for him on YouTube, he’s learned ABC’s on FisherPrice’s online games site, and he knows that we can film him and play it back on the laptop, an activity in which he takes real delight. We move the laptop(s) around the house as needed and he will even pick it up and bring it to us to indicate something he wants.
Now that he’s actually LEARNING things, I was considering lately that when we formally start working with and teaching Le petit to get around on a computer by himself, I was certain that it should be a desktop computer. We have 3 laptops and a netbook between le mari, Le petit’s grandparents and me; no one has a desktop anymore. In which case: does it make more sense, in light of the fact that mobile computing is become more and more relevant, to have Le petit engage in computing and web activities via mobile platforms rather than on a stationary one?
My rationale for considering a desktop include: a big screen, a separate keyboard, and a mouse for his little hands to click away on. Even if we can add a wireless keyboard to the laptop, the largest screen we have in our house is 14.1 inches.
I realize that by the time he is in school, for his generation, mobile computing will really be the medium used in communicating and learning and exploring among his peers and probably in school. In fact, by then, maybe the standard computing device will be the tablet, or something different that we haven’t even seen yet.
In the time it’s taken to write the above paragraphs, I have come to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter if we use a laptop or desktop. When Le petit is young, the things we want to teach him will be the same regardless of the hardware: how to click, taking and looking at photos, how he can engage with family and friends through the web, what’s email and chatting, exploring and searching for information, etc. He will pick up the mobile part naturally through school and socialization. My inclination for the desktop was more ergonomics and visibility. If we don’t get a desktop, maybe we will invest in a larger monitor to use with the laptops at home.