Radio Kent broadcaster and producer Andy Garland

PUBLISHED: 09:30 08 April 2013 | UPDATED: 15:49 10 April 2013

Radio Kent broadcaster and producer Andy Garland

Radio Kent broadcaster and producer Andy Garland

Andy questions the pace of technological change after an in-depth conversation with his five-year-old

Talking point - with Radio Kent's Andy Garland


Andy questions the pace of technological change after an in-depth conversation with his five-year-old


Im at a crossroads


We receive fascinating phone calls every single day at BBC Radio Kent. Some are funny, the audio equivalent of Youve Been Framed. Some are heart-wrenchingly sad and painful; some are short and to the point, full of factual information about the state of Kent right now.


And some cut through the hubbub of the daily life and straight to the heart of ones own personal circumstance. The gist of this particular contributor was should I buy my four-year-old daughter an iPad?


A chord not only struck, but clanged with a Rank filmlike, opening credits proportioned gong as bathtime in our house had recently posed the question from my own five year old: Daddy for my birthday, can I have an iPad?


Children have for generations asked their parents for gifts that are way beyond their needs and parental means, or simply figments of an overactive imagination


Now I understand that children have for generations asked their parents for gifts that are way beyond either their needs, parental means, or simply figments of an overactive imagination (glue shoes Daddy you get them in the shop where Spiderman goes), but this was to be a sterner test of my parenting mettle.


No! Was my primordial response. You are five you do not need an iPad. What you need to do is go outside and ride on your bike, play horses and build dens, climb trees and get mucky and tired out on a regular basis, thus guaranteeing that you sleep for 12 hours straight every night, thus ensuring peace and harmony between children and parents for evermore amen. Now wheres the shampoo we need to wash your hair for school tomorrow?


Job done, I thought smugly, as I recounted this story to my wife later in the evening but what bothered me later was a recurring mental niggle about the pace of technological change.


I dont recall at five being able to lace up the quarter inch reel-to-reel tape machine or work the record player nor I am sure would I have been allowed to. Dont touch that it cost a lot of money is the refrain by now constantly playing in my head.


Yet daughter number one can work the remote control, explain to Granddad that you can get rid of the sidebars on the picture emanating from an old DVD, navigate the Cbeebies website and swipe the screen of my smartphone in the perfect knowledge that the next video of her and sister singing along to Adeles Rolling in the Deep is sure to appear.


I began to question what their future technological challenges might be, whether the finger swipe or finger and thumb squeeze would be extrapolated to manipulate data la Tom Cruise in Minority Report or if improved speech recognition would make communication between man and machine voice driven.


As an experiment and to prove to myself that I wasnt turning into a grumpy old middle-aged man with Luddite tendencies, I spoke the last paragraph of this months column into an app, which kindly wrote the text for me.


In summary, the future is not written, the boss of IBM back in the 1950s is widely misquoted as suggesting that there would be a world market for maybe five computers.


Predicting the future is clearly a dangerous business but judging by the success of this, maybe its not so far away. Im still right about not buying an iPad though.

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