Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The power of suggestion

My boys never cease to amaze me. Even though I am convinced that they are both special little brilliant geniuses, I still underestimate them all the time.

I found a version of some older software for toddlers that S used to love playing. When I first put Z in front of it, I figured he would be hitting the keyboard randomly for a while, and it would be forever before he started pointing and clicking the mouse, and even longer before he actually understood that it corresponded to something on the screen in front of him.

Well, he was pointing, clicking and dragging within about 2 days.

The other thing I underestimated was the ability of Z to be influenced by what he was looking at on a screen. When he pointed and clicked on the number seven, seven apples popped up and he said “Caco!” (his word for apple…it actually is short for avocado…long story). He ran to the refrigerator, grabbed himself an apple, and proceeded to eat it. Ten minutes later, a similar situation happened with bananas showing up in the game. He chirped “ ‘nana!”, jumped up, and insisted on eating a banana.

Luckily, he doesn’t watch much TV, and what he does watch has few commercials. But, the power of image to be converted instantly into want and then action made my head spin. And, of course, it made me paranoid about what future effects advertising will have on his mind and on his waistline.

I found a good site from PBS called Don’t Buy It. This site is geared more towards kids S’s age (7 ½) than Z’s age (2). I will try it out on his older brother first. But, who knows, he may be ready for it. I may just be underestimating him again.

Photo credit: anissat at www.sxc.hu

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