In praise of helpful inventions

When I was about 14 I was given the most amazing present for Christmas: A ZX Spectrum was waiting under the tree for me.
My mum and dad, my nan and my granddad had all clubbed together to buy it for me and I was totally and utterly in awe of this new-fangled home computer which brought the very latest technology into my home.


Fast forward to today and that ZX Spectrum looks pretty lame compared with the advances in home computing.
My 11 year saved up for and bought himself an iPad this year. But far from being the time suck I feared it would be, I’ve been hugely impressed with how he uses it to better himself.
He’s downloaded general knowledge quizzes, study apps, a map of the world, interesting facts and old fashioned board games which require strategy such as chess and mancala.
Sure, it also houses Clash of Clans and Papa Pear, but I can honestly say it has been a very helpful addition to our home.
Homework has become easier, dare I say it, more fun.
He browses countries and their capitals for kicks.
It’s his alarm clock, homework planner, entertainment centre all rolled into one useful little slip of metal and connections.

I think that given how busy we all are when children take up so much of our time, we’re always searching for that invention that makes things just that liiitle bit easier.
Like slow cookers, non-iron school shirts, self cleaning school shoes (WHY has no one invented those yet?) And toothbrushes that yell at you if you don’t use them for the right amount of time – that’s another one I covet.
A home that ‘prepares’ itself for your return by putting on the oven, lighting the fire and putting the lights on in the living room. How cool would that be.

There is something sort of along these lines called Hive; an offspring of the British Gas team, a product which lets you monitor, alter and control your heating and hot water through the touch of a button on your smartphone or browser.
You can adjust your schedules and temperatures while you’re out and about and you also have the option for alters to be sent to your mobile if temperatures reach a certain level.
No more desperately phoning your neighbours to ask them to pop next door and turn your hot water on so you can have a shower when you get in!

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