Photo Credit: Maria Teijeiro/Photographer's Choice/Getty
I'm only about three years late in realizing this, but my 10-year-old son is now a pretty sophisticated entertainment consumer. For years I personally curated his movie, book, and TV entertainment choices for him -- the media equivalent of cutting his pizza into bite-size pieces -- but those days are gone.
When I recently asked for his help on a Harry Potter-themed blog, I didn't realize how extensively his knowledge has lapped my own. I called out random spells I found online; he defined them, put them in context, and modeled the correct pronunciation. He already knows "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" backwards and forwards. To me, it still sounds like a Smashing Pumpkin album.
It's not just a Harry Potter thing. My son knows Percy Jackson and the Wimpy Kid as if they were schoolmates. He draws a pretty accurate distinction between The Disney Channel and Nickelodeon ("Disney is more girly"). And he once told me Han Solo and Princess Leia got married and had twins.
"I don’t remember that in the movies," I said.
"It's not in the movies,” he said matter-of-factly." It's in the expanded universe.”
But my son is not simply a walking encyclopedia like those YouTube-ready toddlers shamelessly trained to identify U.S. Presidents by their photos. He makes his own media choices and decisions. He's influenced by his friends and by television commercials. He's picky about handheld games and adeptly navigates the web. Soon, he’ll even be able to tell a bad movie from a good one.
As a veteran entertainment consumer and myself, I recognize this as an important developmental milestone in media consumption. Let's call it the "Hand Me the Remote, Dad" phase.
But I'll say this -- relinquishing the responsibility of cutting his pizza was a lot easier.