Ask a Geek: What tech stuff are kids putting on their Christmas list?

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Adam Darack is the IT administrator for the town of Edgartown. He writes regularly about the technological issues facing Island business owners. Got a question? Send it to onisland@mvtimes.com with the subject line “Dear Geek.”

On a recent visit to my daughter’s third grade class, I reached out to the class for advice on this week’s article. Although I know the holidays are about family, friends, and giving of ourselves, I specifically wanted to know what technology the kids wanted this holiday season. When I was their age, the single greatest piece of technology in my eyes was an Atari 2600. Kids these days have already been exposed to 100 times more advanced technology than that, no doubt. While the student’s immediate answers did not surprise me, I was thoroughly impressed with their reasoning.

Somewhere Steve Jobs must be smiling, as an iPhone 7 was the most-asked-for item. Most of my daughter’s classmates wanted this phone to text their friends and play games on it. Their teacher, Mrs. Williamson, asked the class what age their parents felt was appropriate for them to have a cell phone, and the consensus was 12 years old. Major bummer for these 8-year-olds, but it is a season of hope, and they aren’t short on reserves of that. What gave me pause wasn’t the desire to text or play games, it was two children who mentioned they wanted to be able to video chat with family. One of the girls mentioned that she didn’t get to see her dad as much as she’d like to, and a phone would give her more of a chance to see his face when she talks to him. Another of the children mentioned that they had used a cell phone to be able to see and communicate with a family member serving in the armed forces. I was impressed with how the classmates expressed themselves and did so in a brilliantly pure, honest, and heartfelt way. If their families are reading this, they should be proud of how they displayed a desire to use technology to help achieve something important to them, not just as a device with some unspecified importance.

The next most popular item on the list was a tablet, but it wasn’t an iPad or Samsung Galaxy Tab, it was a Kindle. A Kindle is a tablet primarily used as an electronic reader. Download a book to the Kindle and you’re ready to read. Bravo, class: The smartest people I know are also the people who read the most, and it’s no coincidence.

There was also a consistent theme of toys desired, specifically drones and a Lego robot that can be controlled by a phone. Drones are pretty amazing devices, and their footage is showing up everywhere these days. They are fun to fly around, and if I were 8, a drone would be high on my list. Wait, a drone is on my list. Legos get gears in the brain spinning, and building something that you can control and move around is a perfect combination of an educational and a flat-out fun experience.

Finally, my daughter mentioned she wanted a camera to be able to take pictures of things she enjoys. I brushed it off, seeing as how she might just get one, but I didn’t want to give her a hint that it might happen. Her expressing she wanted to be able to capture special moments made my day, especially in a season where I tend to reminisce and look at old pictures. If you read this article, honey, it’s only a MAYBE, not a definite!

Thank you, Mrs. Williamson’s Tisbury School third grade class, for giving me such a great morning and helping me with my article. You impressed me with your answers about what technology you want this holiday season, and more important, your reasons.