Shattered Mobility

Saturday morning we had big plans to go to the river to let the dog swim, go to the adult soap box derby and then go to a local street fair for some eats and photo opps.

Well we made it to the River and then plans,  as they often do, changed when Jack shattered the screen on my iPad.  We had just gotten back from the river and were getting ready to leave for the derby, when he asked for some iPad time. His favorite thing as of late is to watch train videos on YouTube, so we said he could watch for a few minutes until it was time to go.  He had it in his hands for all of two minutes and bam the screen was toast and our plans came to a screeching halt. Shattered Mobility. It actually wasn’t his fault. He didn’t throw it, drop it or step on it like most 3 years old boys are likely to do.  He simply pushed the home screen button and pop, the glass spider cracked outward and small shards of glass fell free.

Normally, I would freak out when something like this happens. That thing was expensive after-all and it was only a few months old, but for some reason I was surprisingly calm. Jack was crying hysterically. First his dad and I checked to make sure there were no cuts on Jack’s little fingers. Then I made and appointment with the Genius Bar.  At first I thought that Jack was sad because he had broken it and thought he was in trouble. I comforted him, and told him it was an accident, but he just sobbed harder and wailed louder for his iPad and his trains. I realized that he was not sad for breaking it at all, but sad that he couldn’t play it and that I couldn’t magically fix it just like I was hoping Apple would magically fix it.  It still worked mechanically so I hoped they could re-screen it.  I could use it as it was, but there was no way I would let Jack touch it with the shard-ridden glass, no matter how loud his crying ramped up.

So we re-routed our plans. We skipped the derby, the one thing we all really wanted to see, and went to the street fair to kill time before my appointment with a genius.  As I walked around the fair, I dreaded going to Apple. I didn’t expect bad customer service, but I did expect that I would have to fork over some major cash for the repair. I had Apple Care, but that doesn’t cover the cost of physical damage. I mentally was psyching myself up to go in guns blazing. To talk about how it was a safety issue and that the glass should never crack that easily.  I was already assuming they wouldn’t believe me. I mean who would believe a three year old’s finger strength could crack and iPad screen? The kid is a spitfire, but he is no He-Man.

Yet none of the how mattered when I got to Apple.  I walked up to my genius, explained what happened and showed him the damage. His immediate response was that the damage was obviously not done from miss-use or from dropping it and told me they would replace it with a brand new one for free. Relief. Restored Mobility. I had walked in prepared to fork over big money, that I shouldn’t be spending, to fix it and here was Apple taking care of me. I was more than grateful.  It sounds silly, but in the few short months we have had the iPad is has become a fixture in our family. It serves as our library, the internet, a picture taker, a picture viewer, a video player, a record player, a link to our roots in Michigan, and a note taker.  Our Mobility. Most importantly we use it as an educational tool for Jack. We practice letters and numbers on it and teach him how to read stories.  Sure I can do that all with books and pens and paper and I do that to, but there is a sense of wonderment he gets that those traditional means don’t give him.  It is a tool that I often wonder how my parents who had five children to raise lived without. Thanks to Apple, we were able to bring a replacement home the same day it was destroyed so we wouldn’t skip a beat. It is a major reason why, despite higher prices and their over-controlling nature of the app store, I will always be a loyal Apple customer.

The funny thing is now that I have the new one at home, I have yet to tell Jack it is fixed. In fact I haven’t even shown it to him. He asked for it roughly 20 times yesterday and first thing when he woke up this morning. He excessive thirst for it was somewhat an indication that he was becoming a little too reliant on it and something I want to watch out for very carefully. I did finally give into his requests and default to letting him use my iPhone to view his precious trains today, but he hated it. He has become so accustomed to the big screen on the iPad and the iPhone, which once wowed him to no end,  is now obsolete in his three year old eyes.

It was hard not to draw the parallels to my own usage trajectory of mobile technology. He shares that same hunger that I have for more features and for better devices. When I see someone using anything other than a smart phone I think they are crazy, but if I think about it, it was not that long ago that I was using a Blackberry with hardly any apps and before that a Razr with no apps. I actually remember when I got the Razr. I was the first of my friends to have one and I think I payed almost as much as an iPhone costs today. I thought I was so cool and people were so jealous that I had one. Now, you couldn’t get me to use one if I was stranded on Mt. Hood in a whiteout snowstorm and it was the only device within 100 miles that had a bar of service. OK, well maybe that is a stretch, but I wouldn’t be happy about it.

Yet there is a BIG difference between myself and Jack’s desire for using advanced technology Many of my needs and desires are influenced by social media, tech journalists, advertising, and peer recommendations.  Jack doesn’t have those influences yet. He can’t quite read, barely understands the commercials being marketed at him and isn’t hanging out in the industry talking to early adopters. I suppose you could count me, but I assure you our conversations consist of food, potty talk, and Bigfoot, not mobile device preferences.  His usage desires are molded purely by his use and experience with the device and applications itself. UX people take note, your focus groups should be 3 year old children! Their brains are already being wired differently than our ever were. Neat huh? Or is it Scary? Only time will tell.

For now however, I am going to keep the iPad away from him for a few more days. Although it was not his fault that the screen splintered, I want my boys to understand that when things break they cannot magically be fixed, that there is not a bottomless well (except for my love for them) and that you have to value and respect the tools, technology and toys you are blessed with in life.

In the meantime, I had to think of something to entertain this kid so I went retro. As much as I love technology and what it is teaching him, I still want him to have experiences with the toys I grew up loving. I chose a toy I very much enjoyed as a toddler and I am hoping he will too.  Enter…my childhood version of YouTube,  Viewfinder…and look they even have trains. I am guessing this keeps his interest for all of 1o minutes before I give in and give him back the iPad, but it worth a try.

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