WARNING:I’m about to get some serious preach on. Judgy McJudgerson is in the house.
I was reading an article in the New York Times the other day about how the iPhone has become the hot new toy for toddlers. What? The article went on to profile a couple families. One of them had a toddler who woke from a nap demanding “iPhone” as if it was a bottle of juice. The other, a mom trying to get her kid to daycare, used the tool to entertain her kid with You Tube for the fifteen-minute commute. I repeat, what?!
I mean, let me not pretend I don’t understand the urge to utilize this tool to quell a meltdown. Believe me, I know meltdowns and there were many hours of The Girl’s dance class last year where my boys watched videos on my phone. (Thank you, You Tube truck crashes.) My phone is a fantastic tool to have in an emergency and there is no denying that kids can and even need to interact with technology.
But, just like the in-car video player is only for long trips, my phone-for now- is only for kid-emergencies. And just like I set the parameters on the computer, I too am in charge of the when and where of my Droid use. Which, may be the most important lesson of all. You see, they ask-ALL THE TIME to use it. But guess what? I say no!
People, if you are teaching your kid they can’t even survive a fifteen minute car ride without instant technological gratification, what the heck are you going to do when you have to drive an hour? In traffic? If your toddler, TODDLER(!), has a better command of the phone and its functions than you do, that is not cute, or funny. Trust me when I say you are not increasing their intelligence because they can match the flash card to the correct letter on the memory app. All your doing is increasing their inability to interact with real people or be patient or creative. My favorite part of the Times article was this quote:
“But Jane M. Healy, an educational psychologist in Vail, Colo. said: “Any parent who thinks a spelling program is educational for that age is missing the whole idea of how the preschool brain grows. What children need at that age is whole body movement, the manipulation of lots of objects and not some opaque technology. You’re not learning to read by lining up the letters in the word ‘cat.’ You’re learning to read by understanding language, by listening. Here’s the parent busily doing something and the kid is playing with the electronic device. Where is the language? There is none.”
I could stop writing now, she said it all.This card-carrying literacy specialist is happy.
Technology is amazing. I’m a big fan. My kids visit websites on my laptop often and they will have their own when it becomes age appropriate. My youngest is definitely more tech-savvy than his siblings as he was exposed to more, earlier. Yes, technology is a necessary part of our lives and on occasion can be a great distraction and parent life-saver. But, every day? Every car trip? Whenever they ask after a nap? Just say no. The only thing they learn from you constantly handing over the “I’s” or the Droids is that they never have to wait, they never have to (or worse they can’t) be creative enough to entertain themselves and of course, they’re learning they can always rely on getting what they want if they scream loud enough in the grocery store.
Ok, I’m stepping off my soap box now. I will also close this laptop and go play a real game with my preschooler.
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