With all the talk, and the genuine sorrow, prompted by the death of Steve Jobs, it’s easy to overlook the fact that children might have feelings of their own about this event. Think about it: Jobs was the creator of the devices—iPods and iPads—that kids most associate with coming of age (grade school age, or teenage, that is) and that are most intimately tied to the ways they define themselves, through their music and their friends. He was anything but a nameless CEO—rather a renegade creative force who, as one tweeter put it yesterday, “made us fall in love with machines,” made products so exciting that (mostly young) people were willing to spend a night on line to be among the first to get one.
I don’t know whether this death will shock kids the way the death of John F. Kennedy did me, when I was 11, but I suspect he is a hero to more than a few kids, and we can be sure that our kids got the news more instantaneously, and without adult mediation, than we did that bleak day in November. Jobs wasn’t the same kind of rock star as Kurt Cobain (at least not to children and teenagers) and he died after a long, well-publicized battle with cancer. Still, it’s good to check in with kids, find out what they’re thinking and feeling. Even if they don’t want to talk—maybe they think you’re not supposed to be upset about the death of a middle-aged man you’ve never met—you want them to know that it’s okay, lots of other people are, too, and you’re available if they change their minds.