By Isaac Harrelson
The first piece of media I can remember consuming was the book The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. My mother owned a paperback copy of the Spanish translation and read me parts of the story before bed.
She read this book to me for two reasons – to learn her native language, especially since we had just moved to Costa Rica, and to learn to be a dreamer and never let myself become narrow minded (a main theme of the novel). After that, she read multiple children’s books from her childhood, such as Mirringa Mirronga, by Rafael Pombo.
The first electronic media I can remember being exposed to was a small 10′ TV with a VHS tape deck integrated in it. I watched three tapes – “Mary Poppins,” “The Never Ending Story,” and a Greatest Hits music video compilation from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Music became a constant in my life after I got that tape. I had a portable CD player, and I loved playing the radio in the car, in the house, basically anywhere music was available.
My parents grew up with older technology, but raised me in a manner similar to the way they grew up. They read me the books they had read (Hardy Boys, Rafael Pombo, etc.) played me the music they loved, and showed me old movies from their childhood. I had more channels on TV, more modern methods of listening to music, but as a young child, my methods of media consumption weren’t far removed from those of my parents.
Since I was born in the late ’90s, many of today’s media outlets weren’t commonplace or hadn’t even been invented. I read paper books. I didn’t have an iPod until probably early middle school, and certainly did not have a smartphone until 7th grade.
These days, my 4-year-old cousin has an iPad, toddlers regularly use their parents’ iPhones, and kids watch their children’s programs on a multitude of devices. I had Boomerang and old Nickelodeon. That’s it!
Nowadays, there’s kid-friendly Youtube, Netflix, Kindle, and the list goes on and on. Young kids play video games on phones and computers, and gaming consoles can do more than computers from five years ago. Many kids don’t know what it’s like to grab a paperback or collect a series of books. They’ve never seen a CD, cassette, or a TV that wasn’t flat.
I think that takes away from a lot of the magic that these things had as a child. Getting out the VHS tapes and putting them in the TV, pulling out the CD case and fanning through the music collection, going to the bookshelf and looking for my favorite Magic Treehouse book – all these moments of media consumption were events, they were special. Today a kid can flip from a TV show, to a book, to a song, to a game, in 20 seconds, all on a phone or tablet. This takes away from the experience, in my opinion.