The more I talk to kids about what they are dreaming about showing up under the Christmas tree, the more I hear about really cool, high tech gadgets like virtual reality headsets, 3D printers, robots like Spheros or Ozobots, and drones.
Here is a newsflash. All of those items are amazing and all of those items can be really hard to use at the start. I am not trying to play The Grinch here; I am telling you now so you can be ready for the learning curve.
When kids dream of drones, they don't dream of a parent muttering words that could get them on the naughty list while trying to assemble it. They don't dream of an endless series of 3 second flights either. They dream of that thing lifting off in the living room and capturing with its camera the majesty of a Christmas morning. Reality is that these toys can make many dreams come true but it will take time. Here are some tips.
1. Prepare yourself. Whether you receive the gift or give the gift, understand that the cool stuff you saw happening in the YouTube promotional video probably was highly edited and performed by the inventors of the device. Make that kind of high level use your goal....someday, not right out of the box.
2. Seek out help. Speaking of YouTube, most companies now post many product support videos online. When I bought my XYZ Mini Maker 3D printer I found their online support videos to be far more detailed and helpful than the printed instructions. You can also often find videos created by other users of the product that share their own tweaks and helpful hints. Use all of the knowledge that exists and that people are willing to share. It can make a big difference.
3. Make it about the journey. Instead of pouting that your first 3D printed phone case turned out more like something stuck to the pan at the bottom of great grandma's egg casserole, have a laugh and know your skills will greatly improve. Try and figure out what went wrong so you can improve upon future designs. Keep that lumpy pile of goo so that when you are cranking out really cool stuff you can look back and see how far you have come. It has taken me months to produce anything really useful with my printer.
4. Remember 1 thing. Everything is awesome! We are so lucky to be living in the day and age we do....especially over the holidays. If you need a reminder, just listen to the old Christmas carol "Up on the Housetop." Here is what those kids got from Dear Old Saint Nick:
"Next comes the stocking of little Will
Oh, just see what a glorious fill
Here is a hammer and lots of tacks
Also a ball and a whip that cracks"
No VR headset for little Will? Bummer. Poor Will probably had to go fix the roof and then drive the oxen to town that day once all of the wrapping paper was cleaned up. The point is.....if you get something amazing, be grateful, and when (not if) it doesn't work perfectly right at the start, be happy about that. Don't get mad. Getter better at it.