Front Royal toddler surfs Web on family laptop, iPad
By Kim Walter -- firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- When you walk into the Front Royal home of the Housdens, there's a good chance you'll hear one question asked at least once before you leave.
His parents describe 2-year-old Bobby Ethan Housden as a normal child -- curious, independent and playful -- besides the fact that he's rather technologically savvy for his age.
When Bobby was 15 months old, his mother and father, Kisyl and Bobby Roy Housden, noticed that he was doing more than just randomly pressing buttons on the family's iPod.
"He was opening and closing programs, watching videos on Youtube, playing games...and we didn't teach him anything," Mrs. Housden said. Bobby had watched others, like his 9-year-old sister Kisyl Marie, play different games, and by watching was able to learn the basics of operating the touch screen device.
Bobby already has a few favorite games on different devices, but his sister said that oftentimes he'll notice that she's playing something new, and will want to search for it.
After some time, the family got an iPad, which Bobby is also well versed in. He knows how to access different game applications, like Angry Birds, as well as search for videos on youtube.com.
However, according to his sister, Bobby prefers the family's laptop to access different programs. His mother said Bobby "works on the laptop like any adult."
After he turned on the computer and logged on, Bobby asked his mother, "Wiggles.com."
The Wiggles, Thomas the Train and Bob the Builder are some of Bobby's favorite characters.
Bobby proceeded to type "wiggles" into google.com, with no spelling or keyboard help from his family. He also searched for other kid-friendly websites -- sproutonline.com, starfall.com and disney.com.
"And he knows if he spelled something wrong," Mrs. Housden said as Bobby hit the back space key to correct himself.
The computers and devices might be an everyday activity for Bobby, but certainly not all day.
"We limit his screen time to two hours a day, no matter what it is that he's doing," his mother said, adding that he couldn't wait to get outside.
His father said that when Bobby gets a new toy or activity, he likes to look around at every possible aspect of it, and in stores, he'd rather find his own way around.
Technology does run in the family, as Mrs. Housden and one of her brothers are engineers, and Housden holds a master's in business administration. Both Bobby's parents said they were firm believers in early learning for children.
"You have to make sure that kids get as much as they can from the media that is now available to them," Mrs. Housden said. "I can't say his love for computers is why he learns what he does, because he loves books and going to the library, too."
Bobby plays on a variety of sites that offer educational games on topics like reading, colors and shapes.
The Housdens also see some positive effect in his hand-eye coordination and recognition. His sister says Bobby "loves using the mouse."
Schools now use computers and websites for both learning and testing reasons, so Bobby's parents say they believe his skills will give him an advantage.
"It's the age of technology," said Mrs. Housden. "He is the new generation."