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The iPad, Kindle and iPhone have put Grandma Gadget on the path to ubergeek status.

Deb Frey, Contributing Editor, Impact Lab: I didn’t always take the Kindle, iPhone and iPad to bed with me.  The little gadgets were just too much fun to put down after discovering all the things these devices can do.

I used to live at the polar extreme of the early adopter crowd.  I grew up in rural Montana and had to make the transition from Montana small town girl to big city ubergeek.  Sure there were signs.  My parents knew I was good with gadgets when I started helping family members figure out how to work their new fancy watches without reading the instructions.

I reluctantly joined the cell phone crowd in 1996.  A ruined day on the highway opened my eyes to the advantages of having a mobile phone.  My car broke down in the hills of California.  My three children were happy for the purchase because holding up the “emergency – need help” sunshade on the side of the road, like one of those new homes “sign twirlers”, was painfully embarrassing to them.  They didn’t consider me a cool mom at that point.  My transition into the electronic world was slow.  My cell phone sat in my purse or glove compartment in my car, mute because for me it was too confusing to operate.

Then the smartphone came into my peripheral view, and the next thing I knew I was a gadget geek.  In fact, my grandchildren call me Grandma Gadget because of all my “Kewl” toys.   I purchased my first iPhone over three years ago, and the transformation began.  My phone is now my constant companion.  Two years ago I was tired of books stacking up all over my home, and purchased my first book reader, the Kindle and of course when the new iPad came out I had to have that as well.  Just recently I purchase the new 4G iPhone.  Suddenly I feel like I can tackle anything because I have the power of the entire universe in my hands.

Deb Frey (2)

Grandma Gadget Deb Frey

I can check my emails, watch a Netflix movie, videotape an event, take great HDR photos, update and pay my bills online, play games, read a book and purchase items online with one small handheld device.  I can listen to a song on the radio, tap into Shazam and voila order the song with just a couple keystrokes on my phone.  I can also stay in touch with my friends and family on Facebook, Twitter, Gowalla and Foursquare.

The difficulty of working in the digital world is going off the grid.  I am so used to working on my electronic devices that within 24 hours of going off the grid I get very twitchy and almost bored.  It is hard to focus because I am constantly wondering what came through on an email while I taking a hike in lovely Vail.  Even while focusing on the beautiful scenery around me I am wondering what I am missing in cyberspace.  And of course I am wondering what my friends are up to on Facebook and Twitter.

Getting hooked on cyberspace gadgets is much like a drug addiction.  I know what my friend Dave Taylor is talking about when he pokes fun at others in front of an audience filled with people reading their handheld devices.  Although if you watch him closely you will notice he is constantly checking his handheld as well.

Like most people, I have a nagging anxiety that I don’t know enough. This pushes me to be constantly learning, and I hang around with brilliant people who help push me along. These people are a constant source of inspiration.

Even though I never set out to be Grandma Gadget, I now see it as the person I was destined to become. At the same time, it’s amazing how much simpler life has become.  Some may say their lives are becoming more complicated because of all the electronic equipment, but for me, I couldn’t be happier.

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