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Thursday, November 18, 2004

Families shopping for tech

Twenty-year-old Dan Auriemma got his grandmother a cable modem for Christmas so she could move beyond her pokey dialup connection, reports the New York Times - apparently exactly what she needs. But that's unusual, so many of us know. Matching tech gifts to loved ones of different generations is tough, and it's the younger generation, such as Dan's, that's more likely to get it right. Even so, "76% of Americans plan to give a tech gift this season," says the Times, citing a Consumer Electronics Association survey. In our family, it's hard enough for us to buy gifts for our kids, much less tell grandparents, uncles, and aunts what they'd like a month from now. Wish lists are moving targets, so it's better to look at the History file on the PC our kids use to find out where interests lie from day to day. At no time is the *other* digital divide more apparent than in this season. The Times's John Schwartz describes how differently the generations use tech: "Youngsters live in a high-tech bubble, moving from screen to screen throughout their day and typing and clicking and virtually breathing bits. Their parents (my crowd, if you will), having seen computers become personal in their lifetimes, tend to have a working relationship with technology that doesn't necessarily involve the same all-encompassing embrace." Grandparents, he says, tend to view tech more in terms of toys of the tech sort (some with yet another annoyingly complicated set of instructions to remember) than as complementary means to ends - means to be used all at once. Whether or not this is the case in your family, John's piece is great context for families' tech-shopping dilemmas this year. BTW, I'd love to hear from you about the holiday shopping dynamics in your family.


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