Saturday, August 05, 2006

Getting Your Kids Behind the Camera

I know what you’re thinking.

“You want me to give my child—the one who loses her shoes so often I’ve had to attach a GPS unit to them—my shiny, expensive digital camera? My kids can’t keep missing puzzle pieces in the box, and the dog would starve if I didn’t feed him.

Woman, have you lost your mind?”

Hear me out on this one. I understand how funny (and reckless) this idea might be at first, but I have to tell you that our daughter now takes pictures on a regular basis, and one photo was so good that I mistakenly gave my husband credit for it.

Not only does giving your kids an opportunity to take photographs build excitement and foster creativity, it also demonstrates that they are being trusted with something very special: your digital camera.

For those of you who’d like to explore this further, here are a few tips I’ve learned along this journey of turning over my favorite toy to someone who still can’t reach the sink without a stepstool:

· It is a Privilege to Be Earned: Using your digital camera is a BIG deal, and it requires certain behavior. It also means that the camera will be put away if the rules aren’t followed. By explaining how important the camera is to you, your child might be better inclined to heed the warning.

· Show Her What to Do: Our first rule is “make sure the loop is around your wrist.” If the camera slips out of a little one’s hands, at least it won’t hit the ground. This is a good tip for grown-ups, too. Also, show her how to point the camera and look at the LCD screen. Let her try shooting a couple of pictures to get the feel of it. Many kids are also quick at understanding how to push the button half-way to get the lens to focus on the subject.

· Start Slowly But Stand Back: For first lessons, let her take a set amount of photos and tell her the number in advance. You can then look at the pictures and discuss what she liked about each one. But let her take pictures of whatever she wants—no coaching.

· Give Her the Opportunity to Learn: We get many blurry photos, but we also get some beautiful shots, and her style is different than mine. Each child sees things her own way, and letting her use a digital camera can give you an inside look into her perspective. You might even find you can learn a thing or two!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Forget Diamonds. Digital Cameras Are a Girl’s Best Friend.

Study results recently released by market research entity TRU indicate that almost 80% of women surveyed would choose a plasma screen TV over a diamond solitaire necklace. A similar proportion of women polled indicated they’d choose a high-end cell phone over designer shoes.

I can’t say I’m surprised.

I listened to one of my favorite local talk show hosts this afternoon, and he just didn’t seem to believe the results. He really thought more women would prefer a Prada bag to an iPod. He’s a marketing-savvy guy and often knows what he’s talking about.

But I think he’s wrong on this one.

Maybe he isn’t around this crowd enough to know. It certainly seems that a great deal of marketing technology is still geared the male consumer—a very important piece of the puzzle, to be sure—but women are becoming increasingly influential in consumer electronics purchases. Just check reports from CEA, PMA, Infotrends and other reputable research associations. Women like tech, too. Even if we don’t always display the same confidence about our skills (that’s our hang-up and we need to confront it—just push some buttons and grab a USB cable, woman!).

A personal story.

My husband surprised me with the most wonderful gift for my birthday last year. A Nokia camera cell phone. I couldn’t have been happier. He knows me.

And I believe many of my friends are in a similar boat. Look, we’re too busy managing family schedules and keeping our climbing toddlers out of the ER to worry about breaking our $500 designer shoes because we can’t do a quick sprint in them to save our kids from running out in front of a car. That doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy a great Coach purse (outlet prices, please!) or a nicely tailored suit.

It just means that more and more, we women rely on technology to provide solutions and help us complete tasks more efficiently. Technology is increasingly practical for today’s busy women.

So friends, grab a gadget and go about your business. And if you want to put your smart phone and digital camera in a cute little designer purse, well, that’s just fine, too.

Read more about the survey here: