Nov 12, 2011

modern toddlers or slack parents?

This morning, Cara spent 15 or 20 minutes snuggled up with me on the couch playing with my iphone.  I was excited to see that Starfall has an app for iphone, which is what she's playing in the pictures.  She picked up on how to manipulate the letters on the screen faster than I did, though there are a few things that still give her a little trouble, like dragging letters around the screen.  But, flipping pages or clicking on a letter is a piece of cake.

She really likes the iphone.  I mean, she really likes it.  I have to admit that I'm having a bit of an internal struggle about this.  It's not the reinforcing her letters and sounds that bothers me; it's the judgment.  There have been quite a few articles floating around the internets (like this NYT article and debate) about how bad too much screen time can be for toddlers, that they should be playing with three dimensional objects instead of staring at the screen.  The NYT debate is actually titled "Wired Kids, Negligent Parents?"  Whoa.  That's, um, some heavy judgment.  These screens are not going away.  Computers, smart phones, tablets, etc. are only going to become more and more integrated into our daily lives.  Parenting a two-year-old in 2011 is so different from parenting a two-year-old in 1985, and I am only expecting things to get more complicated.

So, am I a bad mom because I let Cara play a game on my iphone?  I can see how the game would really come in handy at restaurants when she's getting antsy or in the car on a long trip.  But what would other people think ?  (Let me take a moment to say that no, I don't really care what other people think, but I would like to avoid the death stares and "well-meaning" advice.)  Would they look at our two-year-old playing with her mommy's phone and see me as a slack, even negligent, parent?  Should I be resisting the the pull of technology and handing Cara another crayon to throw on the floor?  Or is okay for her to play games on Mommy's phone every now and then?


  1. Hey Jessica,

    Certainly don't think you're negligent! I did read this article recently that added a different voice to the usual all pro-slant on technology in school (mainly, how hard a skill is it to learn to use a computer) which made me think about how the real debate might be what do we not want technology to take the place of?

    It's been great to watch your belly grow!


  2. It is a choice we all have to make, but the use of games that give a predictable result...which is what all video games do...takes away the incentive to experiment. I see it in both my kids. It won't ruin them...but it will change the way they think...and it can diminish their intellectual curiosity. Dateline NBC did a great piece on this with college kids. In the end, the "multi taskers" who incessantly use technology were worse off. They could not do the tasks as well as they thought the could vs those who chose to "think more traditionally".

    Again, those are extreme examples. I am so proud of the way you and PJ handle your roles as parents...I would just warn to be careful how early and how often we re-wire our kids. Make sure you temper the a-musement (literally "to not think") with things that challenge her analytical skills. Let her know that solving problems to an unpredictable end can be just as fun as knowing when I hit this button, I get this result.

    BTW, this is Larry if you can't tell.

  3. It's the "beauty" of modern technology and changing times. Sometimes not exposing them to all those gadgets is close to impossible. Everything in moderation: That's the key!

  4. I agree with the above poster. Everything in moderation! If you use the iPhone here and there, just like the TV, I see nothing wrong with that. It's the reality of the world we live in. Our kids are going to be expected to know computers in a way we probably (amazingly) can't even comprehend today. Things change at warp speed, and who knows what will be available in a few years when our kids head to kindergarten.

    I *do* take issue with parents who rely on technology to take the place of parenting, and that certainly exists on a probably shocking level in our country. But the very fact that you're concerned about it shows that you are NOT one of those parents. You're a fabulous mama and letting Cara watch a little TV or play on the iPhone here and there is not tantamount to neglect. Ben gets to watch a show or two every day and I'm cool with that. He also plays with my iPhone or the iPad a few times a week. He also gets crayons and play-doh and puzzles in a much higher dose.

    Moderation is a beautiful thing. :)


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