Two broad truths emerge. The first is that children experience the world in an incredibly complex, rewarding way. They respond to interaction, attention and practice, and technology can be used as a tool to help enable that or stifle it. The second is that a great deal more work is needed to really understand this process, though the massive changes brought about by technology would seem to support an approach that takes the "ladder" away in favor of a richer, more immersive view. Many famous studies of cognitive development have come from researchers observing their own children, but a good instruction manual for the god game is unlikely to appear soon, if ever.
I doubt it's ever really been much different, and the best way to play that most terrifying and wonderful of god games seems unchanged: You take the opinions on board, measure them against what you see and know and try to be the best parent you can. Or, for the rest of us, be the proudest honorary aunts and uncles around, even if the little bugger does start walking backwards every now and then.
"If you asked me how I'd like technology to be revealed to Miles, it would be much less to do with content and more to do with concepts," Miles' father says. "Things like stripping down a PC so he could see the components, or showing him the basics of how a programming language works. There are arguments that you can attract kids to technology by letting them enjoy the end products first, but I think the end products are so numerous and enthralling that most kids will never get past that. Our generation - people in their 30s - lived through an amazing sliver of time just when technology was hitting the mainstream, and for a brief period tech was accessible but not quite so easy. I remember me and my brother having to feed in punch cards or get to grips with command lines. We had an old 25 kilogram laptop that we tried to get working - we cracked it open, tried the soldering iron, then ended up dropping it two meters, which worked! So few kids in Miles' generation will have an opportunity for that kind of nuts-and-bolts perspective unless they formally study it, and I can't help but think how much more valuable that knowledge is than cutesy characters on children's 'educational' programs. It's definitely something I'd like to try and convey to my son."
For my money Miles is going to be fine, and his tech-mad parents are safe in their own addictions. Thank the stars that (for now) the god game is someone else's problem, too: For all the joys Miles clearly brings I'm still in spectator mode, and I don't know if that's going to change. A dark little part of me thinks character creation without a load/save option sounds scary as all hell. Maybe I'll make myself a little guy in World of Warcraft. At least then I won't have to worry about handing him back when he's got a +3 scream and poop spell building.
Colin Rowsell is nearly at a milestone. Talk to him on firstname.lastname@example.org.