My toddler loves the phone.
He loves to hold it up to his ear and say, “Hello?” He loves talking and Skyping with his grandma on the phone. And man oh man, does he love to play games on the phone.
He’s 18 months old. We’ve allowed him to watch “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” on the Netflix app. The Fisher-Price puppy reads him “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” and he answers when the animals knock in “Peekaboo Barn.”
Older folks, including his great-grandmothers, watch in awe as he unlocks the iPhone, deftly swipes his finger across the screen to find his group of apps, then selects the one he wants (turning the device horizontal if needed). He’s part of a new generation, they say – he’ll never struggle with technology like they did.
We didn’t set out to turn him into a little gadget junkie – in fact, I’ve been well aware of recommendations that discourage any “screen time” before age 2 – but it seemed inevitable. Everyone around him has a smartphone and/or a tablet. We use them to take photos, to do work, to pass time … and he wants to be involved with everything the “big people” are.
But never did I push an electronic device toward him, thinking he’d come away with new knowledge of letters, numbers or body parts.
Smartphones don’t make smart babies, an advocacy group declared Wednesday in a complaint to the government about mobile apps that claim to help babies learn.
Well, babies are veritable sponges, learning from almost everything that they see and do. I’m reluctant to say there’s NO benefit to, say, exploring with Fisher-Price apps. But is there a parent out there who has been stuffing a smart device into their toddler’s chubby hands, in hopes that the child will wake up one day, suddenly able to discern his nose from his eyes when asked?
I can’t imagine that any parents concerned with making a “smart baby” are also the ones who are hands-off in teaching their children words, shapes, letters and numbers.
“Nah, we don’t need to read the baby a book today, he’s been playing with the iPhone for the last hour.”
In case there ARE parents like that in the world, this paragraph was included in the same story, quoting the developer of some apps in question:
In a statement provided to The Associated Press, Open Solutions said it agrees that electronics are not a substitute for human interaction.
The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (whose agenda seems pretty clear) says developers of apps such as the “Laugh & Learn” series are trying to “dupe parents into thinking apps are more educational than entertaining.”
Maybe parents deserve a little more credit for actually parenting, rather than turning to a toy, television or smart device to stand in as a babysitter/teacher.
And maybe we can all remember that common sense goes a long way in raising kids who will be both smart AND technologically savvy.