I was at the hairdresser the other day and my stylist had her two and a half year old with her. I was entertaining her for while but at one point, she handed the toddler her IPOD touch and what I witnessed amazed me.
That child grabbed that device and was navigating it like a race car. She used both hands and fingers to push the buttons and move around the device. She knew exactly what to do and was using an app to bake cupcakes in an oven! Then she came to me so I could bake too, but was clearly in charge of making the choices and getting those cupcakes ready for pretend consumption. I sat with amazement because of her age and how smart she appeared to be.
Apparently this toddler is not alone. Fischer Price, for example, has developed a gadget called the Laugh & Learn Baby iCan Play Case. This colorful case allows toddlers to “enjoy their apps while also protecting the iPhone or iPod Touch from dribbles and drool.” It is designed for babies – handles, a ring for chewing and a mirror on the back. The IPOD or IPHONE sits inside like the picture at the left shows. And it covers up the “home” button so the child doesn’t keep leaving the app. Apparently Fischer Price has an app line for babies 6 months and up. It’s genus for occupying a fussy toddler at a restaurant, when you want to get something done or have a conversation.
But is it good for the toddler’s development?
Does it educate or babysit?
What about the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation that children under two are to watch 0 hours of television? How does that play in?
Some pediatricians believe IPHONES and IPADS fall under the guideline of screen time. The Academy is constantly reviewing their guidelines given new technology.
What concerns me is the toddlers brain development. Toddlers may memorize words that sound smart and advanced by using technology, but toddlers need whole body movement and need to manipulate objects for their brains to grow. And the child is missing the interaction with the parent during the activity–a necessary part of the learning.
Also, when a child is engrossed in a screen, he or she is not participating in the larger world of observation and learning. Think about this. On a recent trip to NYC, my teens were so engrossed in their phones, they weren’t paying attention to my commentary on sites and geography. They missed out on a learning opportunity. Now, apply that to a toddler in the car who is glued to the phone. She may be quiet but missing the back and forth discussion of landscape, a learning opportunity that is interactive with language.
Toddlers do best with active engagement. A screen doesn’t provide that!So for me, the jury is still out on whether toddlers should be using these devices on a regular basis. I’m waiting for the research. Common sense says keep the time to use the device very short!
What are your thoughts about allowing toddlers to use your IPHONE or IPOD?