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Friday, January 29, 2010

Allowing toddlers into the electronic age

Screw the iPad. Apple needs to come out with an iToddler.

I've been wishing that there was a specific gadget just for babies/toddlers for awhile now, but lately I'd say it's become closer to a necessity than just part of my wish list. 

Annika loves to play with my iPod touch. I finally downloaded a toddler teaser specifically for her since I finally realized that hiding it from her was not a permanent solution.

I don't really mind if she plays with it, but I am paranoid that she's going to delete my apps. It's not unfounded paranoia. She already did once. Luckily it was a free one and I just re-downloaded it. (To be honest, almost all of my apps are free. Yes, I'm cheap.) I'm also worried that if I let her play with it unsupervised it will end up in the toilet or a pool of water on the floor or just lost.

I just wish that someone would come up with a (waterproof) gadget made specifically for toddlers, that has a lock on the power button (she likes to press the button and then she gets irritated that her game stops) and lots of (free) apps that teach skills like colors, shapes, numbers and ABCs.

For the first several months of Annika's life I debated between trying to give her only simple toys that would mentally challenge her and letting her have a toy-free-for-all. There are lots of opinions these days that kids are too tuned in. I have plenty of acquaintances with the mindset that children should only play with wooden toys that don't make noises and force them to do things the old-fashioned way. I'm all for those kind of toys, but let's face it folks, it isn't 1810. It's 2010 and we have electronics. We use them, why shouldn't our children use them? Unless you're Amish, I say give up the quaint notion that children don't need any electronic stimulation.

My opinion on this doesn't come without some baggage. I'll admit it. 

I grew up with parents who thought it was best to shelter their children from the outside world. We lived on a ranch in west Texas. We had a garden and raised angora goats. We lived without a television for several years. Even when we did have TV, we were majorly restricted. We were only allowed to turn it on if we asked and my mother was forever coming in and just turning it off arbitrarily and telling us that it was trash that was rotting our brains.

You know what this kind of attitude did to me? You guessed it. I am a major TV-aholic. I love TV. I crave it. I forgo blogging, reading, exercise and other forms of relaxation in order to get my shows in.

So yeah. You're probably thinking that since I love TV so much I might as well marry it and just get it over with. Oh no. First of all, this is a civilized country. It's not like we're Sweden or something. And secondly, I'd rather carry on my clandestine relationship with TV. It's way more fun and I don't want to have to introduce it to all my friends or change my last name. It's much easier to just roll out of bed in the morning and tiptoe silently out the door and then avoid its calls all day while I do other things.

Oh wait, what was I talking about?

Yeah. So, you're probably thinking that I'm just rationalizing Annika's use of electronics because I like them so much. But that's not it. I've given this a lot of thought. And I've watched her use them. I let her watch TV. I let her use electronics. She doesn't freak out and start convulsing. She doesn't turn into a zombie. She enjoys it. And she doesn't just stare at it mindlessly like my mother always told me I would if I was allowed to watch it without restriction.  

With my recent research on unfooding and unschooling and just generally unlimiting life in general I've realized that what makes people gorge and overdo things is restriction, not allowance.

I don't buy into the notion the video games make kids violent and music makes people suicidal. I think that anger makes people violent and denying joy in life makes people suicidal.

I think that people need to stop being scared of TV and electronic games and all the other whatnots in the world that make noises.

So Apple, if you're listening, let's get busy and come out with that Itoddlerpadwhatchamacallit before Annika grows up.


  1. Emma's favorite apps are Baby Flash Cards and Toddler Teasers-Shapes; both are free. I also got a free whiteboard app because I thought she'd like to draw, but she keeps double tapping the screen and bring up a menu and then she gets frustrated. I wish it was possible to lock the apps so that she can't exit when she pushes the main button.

  2. I know! They need to make it baby proof. I really hate the free ones that have a spot on the screen where it says, "buy the full version." Of course the toddler is going to hit that at some point. Like they didn't think of that.

  3. Ronda, I just downloaded a new app that Annika loves! It's called Piano Pups. It's a keyboard made out of puppies and you can play tunes with the sound of dogs barking. Awesome. And, it is free.

  4. I started giving my son the iphone at 18 months..(I started with izoo, and added more as time went on) He understood (somehow) that it wasn't a toy, and he never threw it or dropped it. He's twenty-six months now, and has more apps than I do. HIs new fave is something called 'SmackTalk'. (cute animals imitating things said to them) I used to worry that I would be raising a kid who turned into one of those teenagers who's favorite thing was to play video games. But I realized that I was worrying about something that's far far away, and I will kick him outside anyway when the time comes.
    He is, so far anyway, a very, very bright kid,and this little device? It's better than Sesame street! He counts and does the ABC song from the PBS Sprout kids app, and he learned this while sitting on the potty, using Mama's iphone.

  5. Hey Agentt66, I think you are on the right track. I think it's better to use our gadgets to help our kids learn, than to pretend like they don't exist. I like Sesame Street too, but I like using the iPod to help Annika learn some skills. I am going to have to start actually buying some apps though. The free ones mostly suck.


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