Thursday, April 7, 2011

Engaging Electronics

"Engaging Electronics"

Computer usage started for me in the late 80s when I was in the 9th grade. We were dropped down in front of a bulky, dingy white ancestor to the PC, the desktop computer. Our hands rested on keyboards covered by sheets of paper. As we learned to type without looking at the keyboard (Hey! No cheating!) the history of the computer was explained to us in the droning voice of our teacher.

Fast forward to January of this year and my own droning voice was driving my husband crazy about the CD player in my Dodge. It’s a long story; the mechanics at Firestone don’t come off well.

Our cross-country trip from Washington State to Virginia was only days away.

I needed music.

I suppose I pled my case for an iPod convincingly because I woke up the next morning to a present from my husband: the iPod Touch 4G

The iPod Touch turned out to be incredibly useful during our road trip. I had music. Yes! My favorite feature of the iPod Touch is the interactive map. Of course it only worked when we were in a free Wi-Fi area, but those are becoming easier to find. 

Due to the features and ease of use with the iPod Touch, my husband and I had both been eagerly awaiting the introduction of the iPhone 4. We were due for upgrade and ready to move on from our Blackberries.

We’ve both become attached to our iPhones. Hubby uses his primarily for downloading and studying PDF documents. I love that I can check all five of my email accounts at the same time. I can keep up with friends, family, blogging, research, charitable efforts, and our realtor. And I’m still addicted to using the interactive maps to find my way around Virginia.

The number of electronics in our house has expanded from television, boomboxes, and Atari, to AOL on a clunky desktop PC, and a Nintendo gaming system. Hubby and the kids didn’t have to twist my arm much to get the handheld Nintendo DS. Even I had one for a while. Portable entertainment is a godsend to the busy mom with easily bored children, especially if one is Autistic.

But I resisted the Wii for a long time. Though I limited their use, I thought the kids were wasting enough time on their handheld games. Why did they need another outlet for mind-numbing?

I eventually caved.

The Wii has great games. Who doesn’t love Mario & Luigi? It was games like WiiFit and Just Dance that persuaded me into thinking the Wii wouldn’t be a bad choice for entertaining the kids.

For an autistic child like my son, electronics have helped him engage our family more. He and his sister often have long, involved conversations about their favorite games. The WiiFit has kept him from being his usual sedentary self. He’s focused on his progress everyday and his desire to be fit has drawn him outside for walks and to the playground with his sister.

We've also opted for Wii consoles in place of satellite or cable T.V. The ability to stream Netflix through mobile devices, and WiFi ready systems like the Wii has made entertainment more accessible and affordable.

Electronics have done wonders in broadening the options in gaming, communications, entertainment, and socializing. Without the Internet, I wouldn’t have a wonderful friendship with my writing partner, Elise. And without my iPhone 4, I’d still be lost and looking for directions using one of those fold-up deals that you can never quite fold right again.

Next up on the horizon of engaging electronics…taking another crack at the iPad. Will the iPad 2 be able to hold my attention better than its numberless predecessor?

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