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Living with Technology / The new normal: Always connected, all the time

Published 4:32 pm, Wednesday, October 30, 2013
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Being a parent teaches you a lot. Kids see the world through vastly different eyes than adults do. Yet, sometimes their observations really catch me by surprise.

Our family has a couple of tablet computers. The tablets use WiFi to access the Internet. We have WiFi in our home, so everyone can have Internet access.

But when we leave our home, we're away from WiFi.

As we were getting in our car the other day, my 8-year-old son asked: "Daddy, please turn on the Internet." I had to think about what he was requesting.

Come to find out, he knew that my mobile phone can be used as a WiFi hotspot. He knew that the tablet needed Internet service for him to watch Netflix. He had put two and two together.

Of course, he also knows the app on my phone turns on WiFi and the app on the tablet connects to my phone.

But what amazed me was that this was just something that should naturally occur.

The fact that he has access to just about all knowledge on the planet -- plus every TV show and movie imaginable -- at his fingertips as we drive around, is just the way things should be and probably always have been, he surmises. That's his normal.

My 15-year-old daughter also recently approached me saying that she didn't have good WiFi coverage in one room of our house where she likes to do her homework and would I please fix it.

Lost was that we had any WiFi coverage in the house. Don't houses simply come with WiFi? WiFi is her normal.

But even these expectations are now part of adult life. It's rare that any member of our family (except the 8-year-old) will leave our home without a mobile phone.

We will text each other, we will sometimes post on Facebook, and for most problems we want to solve, "there's an app for that." That's our normal.

So while I think that my children use language that's hard for me to understand, I can only imagine what I would be like if I could be transported 10 or 20 years in the future. Hopefully I'd have the same ability to adapt to new technologies as well as my children do.

I know for sure I'd certainly be amazed at what will become the "new normal."

Mark Mathias is a Westport resident and has worked in information technology for more than 30 years. His "Living With Technology" appears every other Friday. He can be contacted at: livingwithtechnology@mathias.org