I recently came across an interesting article on The Apple Blog. The post can be found HERE. In the post, the author writes about finding an old iPhone, loading it with videos and kid-friendly apps and giving it to his 3-year old. I’d like to share my thoughts on this.
Honestly, I’m just not a fan of the idea. While I love technology and am a huge Apple fan, there just seems to be something wrong with giving a 3 year old what amounts to a palm-sized video gaming system to call their very own. I see nothing wrong with teaching small children about technology and allowing them to enjoy a game on a parent’s phone or an older siblings Nintendo DS, but I also feel it is a parent’s duty to teach their children to use technology responsibly. I’ll admit it. I’m a Facebook/Internet/iPhone junkie and owning my own photography business requires a lot of time to be spent with my laptop. My husband loves video games. However, we agreed long ago that boundaries must be set for children and adults alike. When my husband is home on the weekends, I limit the work I do on the computer. Most of the time I spend in front of the computer is when our son is napping. My husband plays his video games while he is away from home traveling for work and during the evening or early morning hours when I am sleeping. We have no intention of buying phones for our children before it is necessary (It is not necessary in elementary school.), and we will have rules for time spent on the computer/tv/video games. In fact, we don’t even have cable or satellite television. Our televisions pick up 7 channels – the local ABC network affiliate, one 24-hr. weather channel, one blank channel that content hasn’t been chosen for yet, and 4 PBS channels featuring different programming. And while we will probably eventually invest in a satellite dish service, for the time being we won’t have to worry about the kids arguing over who has the remote. I think we need to get back to teaching our children ourselves and stop expecting technology and everyone else to do the job for us. When your three year old asks for their own iPhone every morning when they awaken and can hardly be disengaged from it for conversation on a daily basis, you need to reevaluate the situation and set a few boundaries.
I once heard a parent say, “Well, when I’m home with the kids, I just turn on Sesame Street and let them watch that. That way they are learning stuff.” Really? While television in small doses can be a nice treat for the kids and give parents a much-needed break, it shouldn’t be a long-term babysitter. I feel this is how many parents now use not only television but also iPhones, iPod Touches, and Nintendo DS. How did this generation of parents become so passive and uninvolved? I can’t imagine what it will be like for the current generation of toddlers when they are adults. Many of them won’t have memories of finger painting with Mom or playing with Play-doh with Dad. They probably won’t even remember the hours they spent sprawled in the floor with their noses stuck to a Nintendo DS or iPhone.