We don't watch much television in our household, but my husband and I both find ourselves wed to the computer. I was looking through a photo album with our daughter last week, and we came across one from her infancy. She's swaddled in a pink and white striped blanket, asleep on a pillow between her dad and me. The camera, wielded by my mother, caught both of us on our laptops, typing away. Penny is 4 now, and her teachers tell me that when she sits at the computer in their classroom, she doesn't want to play games like the other kids. She wants to type. Or, as she explains, "I want to work like Mom and Dad."

As of last week, our gadgetry consisted of two laptops, two iPhones, an iPod, an iPod Nano, and an older iPhone that we handed down to our children. Even William, 20 months old, is becoming adept at sliding his thumb across the little screen to navigate toward photographs or games. Our kids will grow up with touchscreens as a cultural assumption, as normal as eating soup with a spoon or driving to the store in a car or sleeping in a bed.

Now we have an iPad. As far as I can tell, it's a big and very impressive iPhone. It's a little heavy, but it moves more quickly than any computer I've ever seen. We watched Lost on it last week. The picture quality was clear. The screen never skipped or froze, as it often does when we watch on a laptop. As a viewing experience, it was great.

Yet I have to wonder: at what cost? Somehow my husband convinced his employer to buy the iPad for him, so we didn't shell out the $499. (Last year, he convinced them to buy him a Kindle, so we have that too.) I still haven't seen his written rationale for the purchase. He tells me the iPad is the wave of the future. He says it will replace laptops ...

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