September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.
I was having trouble coming up with ideas for Christmas gifts for Dan and Monika. Then, a friend suggested an iPad.
At first, I hesitated. Glen and I don't even have smart phones and we have very little experience using an iPad. Furthermore, an iPad seemed a lot like a device for playing video games and that's the last thing I want our children doing.
But, the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. Dan and Monika use iPads at school. Students are expected to be proficient with technology at younger and younger ages. And, from helping in Dan's classroom, I knew there are many ways iPads could be used for learning, instead of just playing games.
I decided to get a second opinion, so I asked Dan's teacher if she thought it would be a bad idea for us to have an iPad at home.
She didn't think it was a bad idea and she showed me the iPad applications Dan seemed to really enjoy. Then she said, "Let me show you Dan's letter to Santa Claus."
She pulled Dan's letter to Santa Claus out of the stack of letters on her desk. It read:
Dear Santa, My name is Dan. I am 5 years old. I would like an iPad for Christmas, to learn and play on. Yours truly, Dan
I thought the letters were destined for the local newspaper's Letters to Santa feature, but I later learned otherwise.
A couple days later, Dan and Monika were watching an episode of their favorite show on the computer. Since we only have a couple channels on our television, I let them watch a few television shows on my computer. The arrangement works very well, because I get to control content and viewing time. The only downside is that Dan is always touching the computer screen like it's an iPad.
"Dan," I told him, "you can't touch the screen on the computer. It's not an iPad."
"I know," he said. "But I really want an iPad."
"Well, we don't have one," I said.
"Well, I'm going to get one," he replied.
"Oh? How are you going to get one?" I asked.
"Santa Claus is going to bring me one. I wrote him a letter and asked for one and Ms. Frank mailed it to him."
So, since Dan's letter asking Santa for an iPad had already been mailed, Glen and I decided to wait and see if Mr. Claus would indeed bring one.
Sure enough, on Christmas morning, there was a small box wrapped in red paper sitting on the floor under the stockings. Inside was an iPad.
With the unwrapping of that gift, we started a new adventure with technology. At least Glen and I did. Dan and Monika already knew how to use an iPad, so they were already swiping around on it like experts.
I took an introductory class on iPad use with a farm business management instructor and got a list of apps for farmers. Glen saw ads for a couple apps in one of our farming magazines, so we downloaded those, too.
The problematic part for us is that learning to use an iPad requires actually using the device, something neither of us has really found the time to do - especially when there are two small people clamoring to use it, too.
One quiet Sunday afternoon, Glen sat down on the couch to check out a few of his apps. He likes agIndex and Dairy Source because they combine news, markets and weather all in one place.
As soon as he tapped into Dairy Source, Dan and Monika landed on the couch next to him to watch. Dan has a hard time just watching, especially when inexperienced hands are maneuvering about the screen, so it wasn't long before Dan was leaning over Glen's shoulder and running the screen for him like a backseat driver.
Swipe. Tap. Tap. Swipe. Pinch. Grab.
"See, Dad?" Dan said. "You just go like this."
Glen, overcome by giggles, laughed, "I just got run over by our 6-year-old."
I think it's safe to say that Glen and I have a lot to learn yet on this technology journey. Thankfully, we have our children to guide us. If they'll slow down long enough to let us catch up.
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