The Gift of Technology

48720547 - open christmas gift box with a tablet and a smart phone inside, presents and letters all around, top view

Christmas is here, and this year many of my family members are getting the gift of gadgets.

My four-year-old daughter has been begging for “her very own Alexa,” so she is getting an Echo Dot and a stern admonishment that she’s not allowed to use it to turn the lights on or off in Mommy’s room. My grandmother is getting a full-sized Echo, and a lesson from my four-year-old in how to use it. My dad is getting a smart lock and installation/setup service from my husband and me. Our nieces are getting a Boolean Box that I received for backing a Kickstarter. Our daughter is also getting a large trove of Goldie Blox.

I love giving people tech toys for Christmas. Not only is it a great way of sharing what I do for a living, it’s also a fantastic way to give people a little something extra — ecause not only am I handing them a box, I’m also giving them my expertise in picking it, and my knowledge and skills in setting it up.

For many of our friends and family members, the time that we spend setting up their new gadgets is far more valuable than anything you can order online. In fact, that would be a great present in and of itself. Every year my sister gifts my grandmother with a day of yardwork. They sit down on Christmas day and pick a date in the spring, and then my sister shows up on that day and spends it weeding, mulching, etc. You could do the same thing for computer maintenance. Pick a specific date (otherwise, you’re just giving the equivalent of that coupon book good for chores that we gave our moms when we were six and never made good on) and then show up on that date and run updates on their computer, make sure that they have proper anti-virus software, check their Wi-Fi settings, etc.

And, finally, when I’m putting together my shopping list, I make a real effort to give STEM toys and presents to the girls and women in my life. There is a wealth of evidence that the difference in how boys and girls are encouraged to play starts to create a gender gap in tech and math skills as early as pre-school. Our daughter gets dolls and dress-up clothes, but she also gets building sets and books that encourage her to use math and science.

What tech gifts do you like to give to friends and family?