The kid has never known a time without these magical little devices. In mere hours after his birth, he was using an iPhone. Well, at least he was passively using an iPhone. . .We had loaded a white noise generating app which we used to help lull him to sleep.
About the time he was 3 months old, we discovered he really liked this little singing animal cartoonish app from Fisher Price. So we let him watch it once or twice every couple of days. Oh how his little eyes would twinkle in delight at the cartoon elephant stomping and dancing around! It was amazing how rapidly the kid learned the entertainment value of the phone.
And once he got a tad stronger, and could hold things himself (about 6 months), we would sometimes hand him the phone on particularly long and difficult car rides. The phone was equipped with a colorful and noisy “rattle” app that he could manipulate himself just by shaking the phone! It was a godsend on trips.
As he grew to 12 to 18 months, we added other apps on our phones – educational primarily – which we allowed him to use sparingly every few days. He was learning counting, colors, the alphabet all in a much more entertaining format than I could ever provide with a few flashcards and my tone deafness. And since he doesn’t watch TV, I reasoned a few minutes every so often with the phone wasn’t so horrible.
Then a few months ago we discovered the ultimate convenience of offering the kid the phone just as he was preparing to flip out. The phone helped him keep his shit together just long enough for us to say, get him in the car seat, bird for 10 more minutes, or make the Doctor’s office slightly more pleasant.
He’s nearly 20 months now. And he can completely manipulate the phone – switching between apps, dragging his finger to place shapes into their correct silhouettes on the screen. I marvel at how quickly he’s figured it all out. I especially marvel when he changes a bunch of settings and all the language on my phone is in some kind of beautiful Arabic script and I can’t fix it. . .I can hear him counting out loud and singing parts of the alphabet. It’s all very exciting for me to know the phone can be a useful learning tool when used appropriately.
Except all is not perfect. . .because we didn’t really use the phone completely appropriately.
Along with his age came free will and stubbornness. . .and the ability to demand things he desires. . .Like “Fone! Fi! Fone!!” We can’t even let him see the phone or else he starts stomping his little feet demanding “Fone!”
And then well, you HAVE to give him the phone because that’s how we, stellar parents that we are, deal with him when he’s on the verge of a meltdown.
But even more disturbing is what else he learned from the phone . . . (and me).
See, most of my yoga pants lack pockets. So in order for me to carry the kid, my phone, and 20 other objects around the house at any given time, I often shove the phone into my bra strap up near my right shoulder.
Now, I’m not certain the kid has ever actually seen me PLACE it there, but somehow he learned it’s frequently there. . .and. . .
When I pick him up, he immediately tries to yank down my shirt, searching my bra and the surrounding area for the “Fone!!”
Let us serve as a cautionary tale! Do NOT play all loose and fancy free with your toddlers and technology or else you’re going to end up with a 2-year-old who inappropriately searches boobs for iPhones!