7 year old gives Sony Reader Thumbs Up
There was some discussion at the recent Book Conference about so-called ‘digital natives’ and how much of the passion for print might dissipate as a generation brought up on objectless media came to dominate the consumer-space. Of course, the pessimists tended to conflate that construct with the notion of the information snacker, suggesting that whilst digital natives might be happy with electronic texts, their shorter attention spans would prevent them from engaging with book-length material.
I tend to be an optimist, and whilst happily agreeing that information snacking happens, think that it’s not an either/or thing. It’s entirely possible for people to snack and consume material with greater depth; and attention spans that can play Halo for hours can be persuaded to read for hours as well. Or so I reckon.
Anyhow, that’s all by way of preamble to a little observation of homelife since returning home. The seven year old is a digital native. She’s been mousing around the net for years, happily watches video material on anything from an ipod to a big screen, and plays any number of video games on one of my old G4 Powerbooks, or the family PS2 or DS Lite. But she’s also a fan of Monopoly and Scrabble (the physical board games) and devours printed books at a rate that does her mother proud. She’s currently working her way through Enid Blyton’s Famous Fives.
So yesterday I offer her the chance to read Famous Five 15 on the Sony Reader. Her response as she took the shiny new toy was “Is this mine?” Before settling down on the sofa and finishing the book in no time flat. Today, she asks me to load FF16 onto the Reader. “Don’t you want to read it as a book?” I ask her (she has a box full of Enid Blyton in print form). “No, I want to read it on that thing,” she replies.
So, there you go. No mention of flashing between pages, or screen quality, or dodgy interface (apart from a query about how to turn it on.) Hardly definitive, but unprompted, this (7 y.o.) digital native chose ‘e’ over ‘p’.