The Cloud and Babies: Parents and Umbrellas

The Cloud and Babies: Parents and Umbrellas

I was a member of the first generation of humanity to grow up with computers. We surfed the web as babes, toddlers turning HTML into child’s play. The infants of the 2010s will be the first to mature alongside technology’s own robust, promising infant: cloud computing. What to make of this realization? I did a little research to determine my thoughts.

Let’s begin with the heartwarming. HP’s official blog, Data Central, wrote a clever piece last year on Kenyan babies, the cloud, and President Clinton. It revealed how the President’s Health Access Initiative partnered with HP, employing its cloud power to expedite the Initiative’s collection and processing of HIV tests to infants in the African country.

With a 45% risk of infection, the scheme could very well save scores of young lives. Outside of the humanitarian tone, Data Central’s article serves as a bid to color cloud computing in the light of innocence and rescue. Not a bad way to highlight the cloud’s silver lining.

Yet the cloud’s “guardian angel” aesthetic can’t completely escape the goop that occasionally drips out, landing squarely on the impressionable heads of 2011’s babies.

The iPhone, a heralded device of cloud computing, has gone way too far in its reach to kids. Sync Blog recently announced how Apple’s devised the Laugh & Learn Apptivity Case, a tool that eases the way in which kids interact with an iPhone or iPhone touch.

Children as young as 6 months of age can shake, rattle, and roll the accessory to their hearts’ content. Yet the article’s author makes a good point about its use. “I don’t know how I feel about my baby chewing on a case that houses a radiation-emitting smartphone,” writes Marc Saltzman.

I’d like to further that argument, elongating it into the territory of overloading our youth. I have no problem with children experiencing technology. However, I do feel the pressure to urge parents to mete some judgment in exposing their babies to too many gadgets.

Whatever happened to good, old-fashioned books and reading? And don’t talk to me about a Kindle. I mean the crisp feeling of flipping the pages into a freshly purchased volume. Or checking out a book from a library, if only for its affectionately moldy pages to aromatize my room.

Kids need technology. It can entertain, it can save lives. The cloud can make all of this easier for young ones. Yet parents should act as an umbrella, monitoring just how much of the cloud’s influence falls on and soaks into their children.

By Jeff Norman

About Jeff Norman

Jeff Norman is a freelance writer currently based in New York City. He's moved into writing about cloud computing from substantial work in culture and the arts. He earned his undergraduate degree in English at Stanford and has studied at Oxford and Cambridge.