Today Sebastian turned ten. We finally caved and bought him an iTouch. Generally we are not on the leading edge when it comes to technology. The computer I am using to write this post is eight years old: younger than Sebastian but older than the triplets. Tess and I have Kindles but we don’t have ipads or much else when it comes to gadgets. Naturally the kids have been pressuring us to get their own gadgets, especially phones. I have a lot of fun answering the question, “But how old were you when you got your first phone?” I will cock my head to the side and say with a cryptic voice, “Twenty seven!” This is true and that phone was the size of a shoebox, weighing the same as a large bag of rice. (Left: the first picture taken on Seb's new iTouch just before the kids went to bed.)
Shoeboxes and rice have come a long way since I was twenty-seven, lugging around an almost briefcase sized phone during the BC Yachts years. Today, most household phones no longer have wires attached to them. “Oh I remember them!” reports Sebastian triumphantly. The kids marvel in disbelief at the notion TVs were black and white when I was their age, cartoons were only on the television Saturday mornings and the Internet was only a sparkle in the late Steve Jobs’ eye.
What I didn’t know about Jobs’ latest version of the iTouch, is that the device -0 even though it is not a phone - is Skype enabled. Last night after the kids fell asleep I set-up Seb’s iTouch, loaded on some of his favourite apps, created a Skype account for him and charged the battery. Then I carefully slipped it back into the package.
Tonight we went to the ABC for dinner. The kids played in the pool for Floaty Wednesday – the only time the lifeguards allow inflatables in the pool. After dinner Sebastian opened his presents. (This involved closing his eyes and reaching into a recycable shopping bag because Seb doesn’t want us to waste paper on the environment.) He acted suitably delighted at each small present, strongly suspecting that at the end of the tunnel was the grand prize iTouch.
Back at home we set-up the wireless connection. Sebastian tried calling me on Skype. It worked. Then he called Auntie Pammy and Uncle Ed in Canada. It worked. I sent him a message via Skype chat, “It’s time for bed.” He wrote back, “Hi, ok.”
The idea dawned on me that perhaps, by the time Sebastian does get a phone, it might be obsolete. In fact he may never own a phone, as his parents now know them. Instead, at ten years old, Sebastian, long beyond copper, discarded even fibre, and leapt over technology into the wireless world of Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP). That subtle but transformational technology shift is not one I anticipated when he was born ten years ago this morning.