An Apple (iPhone) A Day for Your Toddler?
October 26, 2010 · Posted in Parenting, Preschoolers, Technology, Toddlerhood · Permalink
My favorite toy is my iPad. My second favorite toy is my iphone. I have a hard time not playing with them – even when in a conversation with someone. I am 50. So what about little kids playing with their parents iPhones? In Toddlers Favorite Toy: The iPhone, Hilary Stout takes on the pros and cons of allowing young children to use these amazing gizmos. I have a lot of sympathy for parents today. When I was at the park with my young children, I didn’t even have a cell phone! I had no choice but to settle in and be there. Had I been able to whip out my iPad or make a call I am sure I would have. I feel thankful that wasn’t an option- it pushed me to either pay attention or at the very least use my imagination to occupy myself if I felt bored, annoyed or uncomfortable.
If grown ups have such a hard time limiting themselves, we have to acknowledge how addictive these devices really are. So the idea of toddlers playing with these “toys” is giving crack to a baby. Here’s some information and strategies to help you either prohibit or limit your young child’s time on an iPhone.
1. There is no way this is good for a kid’s brain. No child development expert, unless on Apple’s payroll will say that this is good use of a child’s time.
Jane M. Healy, an educational psychologist in Vail, Colo. said: “Any parent who thinks a spelling program is educational for that age is missing the whole idea of how the preschool brain grows. What children need at that age is whole body movement, the manipulation of lots of objects and not some opaque technology. You’re not learning to read by lining up the letters in the word ‘cat.’ You’re learning to read by understanding language, by listening. Here’s the parent busily doing something and the kid is playing with the electronic device. Where is the language? There is none.”
2. Imagine your parent saying, “Ok cutie, you play with the 500 dollar Tiffany vase. If it breaks we can just get a new one!” These are very expensive items! Use common sense.
3. Screens are so rivieting we can’t help looking at them. Consider what your child will miss out on if constantly glued to the phone.
Tovah P. Klein, the director of Columbia University’s Barnard College Center for Toddler Development (where signs forbid the use of cellphones and other wireless devices) worries that fixation on the iPhone screen every time a child is out and about with parents will limit the child’s ability to experience the wider world.
4. Your children will have their whole lives to use computers, phones and screens of all kind. They don’t need to have them as their little brains are developing.
Again, I have trouble limiting myself on these toys, so all power to you if you can not allow your children to use them. It is probably a healthier choice.
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  1. October 26th, 2010 | 9:51 am

    Thank you, Lisa, for saying what I have been thinking. It hurts me to see little kids playing with these things.

  2. Alexis
    October 26th, 2010 | 10:07 pm

    Thanks so much for this post. It is hard to keep perspective on this issue sometimes. One strategy we found really helpful for limiting screen time, but helpful for when kids need a distraction, is to download audio books to play at a restaurant when you need a few more minutes to finish your meal or in the car, etc. Keeps their minds occupied but they aren’t looking at the screen. And many of the books we have are read by fabulous actors/narrators who really bring the books alive in a whole new way.

  3. kcf
    November 5th, 2010 | 2:59 pm

    The biggest piece of advice I tell parents of younger kids is to limit or avoid screens as strenuously as possible. And when it’s no longer possible (middle school computers for homework, for instance), to institute strict rules at the very onset of their being used (taking away screens and phones at a certain time of night, no Internet or phone for some hours during homework, no devices of any kind at the dinner table, etc.). This is SOOOOO hard to do later when they are teenagers and really really really need the limits.

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