Shareable’s research partner Latitude conducted a very original study of what children want from technology. At first glance, the questions and the answers they provoke seem, well, child-like: Of course, the kids want the world, they want the whole world, and they want today and tomorrow:

Love that song; Veruca Salt is kind of the ultimate villain, isn’t she?

But the Latitude study reveals some deeper things going on, which are nicely summarized in this video:

There’s a couple interesting things here. One is that children’s science-fiction dreams are very much shaped by how they’re experiencing technology right now, and the video does a nice job of connecting what they imagine to real technological trends like augmented reality and RFID tags. Innovation starts in imagination and children live in a world augmented by stories and images in their heads; it’s a strange but true fact that a great deal of recent technological innovation has started in childhood science-fiction dreams.

On a much less idealistic level, it’s also true that wants and needs drive innovation; children are imagining things that someone will try to manufacture and sell to them, as both fantasy and reality.

But consider, for a moment, how shareable so many of these desires are. The kids want stuff, but they’re also imagining opportunities for creativity and community. Veruca Salt and Charlie Bucket co-exist within all of us, a selfish devil and a shareable angel, which is the root of the appeal of the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory story. It’s really up to us adults, parents and non-parents alike, to create a world in which kids are encouraged to find and amplify the non-materialistic, communitarian possibilities presented by a connected world. In other words, we should all strive to be Grandpa Joe, not Veruca Salt’s bad egg of a dad!

Jeremy Adam Smith


Jeremy Adam Smith

Jeremy Adam Smith is the editor who helped launch He's the author of The Daddy Shift (Beacon Press, June 2009); co-editor of The Compassionate Instinct (W.W. Norton

Things I share: Mainly babysitting with other parents! I also share all the transportation I can, through bikes and buses and trains and carpooling.