People often do a double-take when I tell them my three-year-old daughter has her own iPhone. And I’m always quick to clarify: she uses Steve’s old phone, which would have been otherwise disposed of.
It’s a contentious parenting issue – technology for children. Some are absolutely against it, some think it’s wonderful and others, like me, are somewhere in between.
Abbey’s phone is not connected to anything – no spending hundreds of dollars on phone calls and accidental app downloads, thank you! – and just has a few apps, photos and videos on it. We give it to her very rarely, saving it for times that desperate measures of distraction are required. We used it when we took her to Samoa with us last year, and it helped with all the eating in restaurants required on a holiday. (Very boring when you’re not even two!) We take it on long car trips and pull it out if she’s about to do something terrible like fall asleep at 4pm. And it comes out every so often when
It’s one of the luxuries of modern parenting – having tools at our disposal for heavy duty distraction – but I believe it needs to be used carefully so it isn’t seen by them as a replacement for play or books.
To me, it’s all about moderation. Her favourite apps range from the annoying, like Talking Tomcat with whom she argues about whose mum I am (‘she’s my mum’ – which the cat repeats – ‘no, MY mum’ – repeat – ‘MY MUM!’), to the educational memory games and shapes and counting games. We tried a new app recently – the new CBeebies free app, On The Go.
Given that Abbey had loved the CBeebies program, Get Squiggling, that we watched together, I was sure she’d like the app – but I think it’s suited to a slightly older age group than her.
There are some lovely things on offer in this app: memory games, puzzles, short programs to watch, and lots more. My issue with the app, though, lies in the navigation: you don’t know what a game is until you’ve clicked on it (you click on a character rather than an obvious activity), it takes a while to load each game or go back to the menu, and once you find something you like it’s hard to track it down again. At one point, Abbey did find a good listing of the games and I tried to help her find something she might enjoy, but she accidentally pressed another option and we couldn’t find the list menu again. By the time we found a game, she was over the whole thing and chose to go back to an app she knew.
Basically, she was rather underwhelmed by it and soon got bored of the slow loading (this is the ultimate impatient generation!) and difficult to navigate menus. I was left wondering if a four- or five-year-old might enjoy the app a bit more.
For Abbey, though, it’s back to her old faves.
What’s your stance on iPhones, iPads and other technology for kids?
[Disclaimer - I am being paid by Kidspot to write this post in order to promote the new CBeebies app, On The Go. However, my views are not bought - everything I have written is my own opinion.]