Grandmothers Who Code


Age, Gender, & Technology

a blog by Sari Jozokos Morninghawk

Kids and Communication

Technology & The Generation Gap (Part I)

March 17, 2018

I have this web app I've been working on that is for middle school kids to learn to code by making a web page, and eventually a website. Hopefully, this will be a positive introduction to Computer Science, and also app/web design. It's a pet project of mine in its early stages that I'm hoping to have in selected schools by some time next year. The sample page I created for demonstrating how to write code is a bit lame by middle school standards. I may be a cool grandmother, but I really don't know what passes for cool as a 12-year-old. So I've been trying to get my granddaughter to write a little “story” for me to replace the sample web page. I've been asking her for months with no results! Turns out I didn't really give her the task in a proper format.

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Writing with Paper Is Obsolete

When we were kids — those of us over 40 — and we were asked to write a story, we grabbed a pen and a notebook and did the job. That's not it today. Kids find it much easier to type it on their laptops or tablets. Believe it or not, writing with paper has become a thing of the past. I knew this, so I asked her to write it in Google Docs. I thought this would work, but time kept passing and I didn't have a good sample page. We're close, my granddaughter and I; she said she would do it for me, and she meant it. But still, she couldn't seem to get it started.

I knew that part of the problem was that the story had very specific requirements — a page title, a headline, 2 images, 2 lists, a short paragraph…. You get the idea. The task became a chore. It lost all of its joy and fun. I had to figure something out so that she would enjoy writing my story. Consequently, I made her a web form with each field as one of the requirements and she started working on it within the hour! That's just a single example of communication today, and information exchange in general, in our ever–changing world of technology.

The Pros & Cons of Today's Communication

Texting and using a message app are certainly more common now than making a phone call or even more old–fashioned, paying a visit, especially for the under–40 set. Like any other change, there are pros and cons to these new methods and styles of communication, but the change will happen whether we like it or not. So, all you people of a “certain age”, let's explore how to use this new stuff to our advantage, so we can get the attention of our grandchildren and other young people in our lives and keep ourselves active with friends and family.

Distance is no longer an issue. With apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, we no longer have to contend with international phone rates and sharing moments with loved ones across an ocean. We can communicate several times a day from New York to New Delhi or from San Francisco to Dublin.

Time is no longer an issue. With apps that allow video chat, we can see new babies and visit special occasion events while they're happening. It may not be as good as holding the newly arrived grandchild or sharing a glass of champagne, but it can keep us in touch and up-to-date with those we love and care about who are far away. With texts, we can get in touch at any time. If they're sleeping, working, or in a meeting, we can still send our message without waking or interrupting them. They can respond when they're free. How many times have you decided not to call because it's the middle of the work day or the middle of the night or too close to dinner time? Send a text instead.

To me, the biggest disadvantage, is the lack of face-to-face communication which easily leads to isolation and alienation. Most people still require a human touch and a smile to feel happy and fulfilled. So fix it by insisting on dinners with the family, keeping up a regular girls night out, and delivering holiday treats to the neighbors. None of these lose their appeal in the light of our new technological advancements in communication.

So open a Facebook account. Download WhatsApp. Take a course at the senior center or library about emails and smart phones. Send texts and respond to the ones you get. Learn to use SnapChat. Embrace the new day of instant communication and close the generation gap. You can still insist on no phones at the dinner table.


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Avatar for Sari Jozokos Morninghawk

Sari Jozokos Morninghawk has been writing code professionally since 1994. For the past two decades she has worked as a front-end engineer with a specialty in user experience (UX). Having worked at several start-ups as well as a number of large corporations, Morninghawk’s background has given her a wealth of work-place experiences regarding age and gender. View resumé

She has volunteered for Girls Who Code helping to close the gender gap in technology, and Citizen Schools creating opportunity for success through hands-on after school classes for kids in middle school, where she designed a program to teach sixth and seventh-graders how to build a website.

Morninghawk is an active grandmother of three children (who don’t necessarily have an interest in technology). Together they enjoy movies, board games, cooking, outdoor activities, arts & crafts, books, and hanging out.

Sari Jozokos Morninghawk and grandchildren