iPad Babysitter?


As a parent of a three-year old, I know the quandary a parent faces when their toddler melts down in a fine-dining establishment. 

We silently play a mental game of tug of war.

“Do I pull out the iPad and soothe baby or wait outside in the cold until daddy pays for the meal I didn’t even eat?”

Hmmmm…tough call.

In the days of old, babies clutched a rattle in their tiny fists for amusement and played with their toes –but these days just as many parents hand over the iPad or SmartPhone to: (A.) develop fine and gross motor skills (swiping and poking) and (B) passively babysit.

Do a Google search for “toddlers with tablets” and images and videos of toddlers maneuvering hexagons and triangles bombard the screen.

(Seriously though…my baby could sort shapes way before yours)

But critics shake their head at this early embrace of technology, suggesting addictive behavior and behavioral disorders could follow.

But are parents heeding expert advice?  Am I?

Urvashi Sen of New York City claims her 11-month-old son Ishaan could swipe a tablet before he was 9 months old.

Sen, a member of the group Upper West Side Moms, says she feels conflicted about handing over the technology to her children. Suzy Wolfson, another member, also expressed concerns about her 13-month-old son Leo’s interaction with tablets.

“I feel guilty when he’s sitting there with it,” Wolfson said. “But at the same time, I know I’m going to get him to eat dinner if I give him the iPad. I do think there is real learning and value.”

A study by Northwestern’s School of Communication discovered that 37 percent of parents of kid’s age 6-8-years use their tablet or Smartphone to entertain; despite the fact that over half are concerned the mobile devices may have a negative impact on their physical activity.

But research reveals, the more their kids beg for technology the less parents seem to care.  Because the truth is when the Smartphone is at arm’s length and the baby starts crying, many parents will reach for the easiest solution at hand. 

And once patterns are set, it’s tough to resist.  The baby knows if he cries hard enough in public, mom or dad will cave to the pressure.

What’s even more frightening is the addictive nature of technology.

ABC News conducted an informal test to see if babies would prefer mommy’s arms or the iPad.  Sadly enough, the toddlers were irresistibly drawn to the touch screens.

Infants over and over again are mesmerized by digital toys. When Leo was given the option of his mother Suzy, or the iPad, he went straight to the tablet.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends for children age 2 and under –zero “passive screen time.”

Not even for Elmo or Baby Einstein or Yo Gabba Gabba.

Just to fess up…in our home, we cheated by a few months, but generally deferred technology across the board until age two-ish (translation 20 months).  We also set limits on media but occasional fail during the summer months.

Instead, the AAP suggests unstructured play and talk time because they believe these approaches help children learn while supporting development.

This means mommies and daddies might want to consider turning away from their SmartPhones at the park to play pirates and princesses; it means we bring crayons and toys to the restaurant instead of the latest “Cupcake Maker” app, read books at bedtime and pull out the Little People for a game of pretend. 

It means we need to engage with our kids and not use technology to do OUR JOB.

We have to step up as parents even when it’s SOOOO easy to be a boob tube, iPhone, and iPad SLACKER. 

Because who is going to tell on us, the baby?

“That’s a time when these young kids need to be developing language skills and learning to recognize a facial expression, not scanning the Internet on an iPad,” said Gary Small, author of iBrain and professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences and Parlow-Solomon Professor on Aging at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

Alright, exhausted parent’s of the world, as summer begins let’s virtually pinky swear to play more and tune in less.  Let’s turn off Playhouse Disney and go make a real fort with pillows and stuffed animals.

(Either that or your baby is going to turn into a techno-zombie who prefers his virtual mommy.  Just saying…)

How do you feel about toddlers and technology?

Source: ABC News

Words With Friends and Cheaters

A game of Scrabble in Tagalog.

Image via Wikipedia

My husband is over-the-top obsessed with Words with Friends.  For those of you living in the dark ages, it’s basically the game of Scrabble designed to allow users to engage in games with each other via their i-appendage (iPhone, iTouch, iPods, and iPad).  

At any given time, Tim has about five games simultaneously running.  He is playing his boss and his bosses ‘wife”, our football coach’s son, a dad from baseball, and some random guy he met in the Words with Friends cloud.  I thought about being jealous of all his new wordie friends and the enormous amount of time he dedicates to this hobby (for about a minute), but then decided it was too much fun watching him kick some serious Scrabble bootie to get mad at.  The truth is my sweetie-pie is a strategic word genius.  Give him a few letters and a board (even a mini one) and the man can make some magic.

Occasionally people accuse him of cheating.  Clearly, anyone who would suggest this ridiculous concept does not know my honest to a fault hubby very well.  In seminary, he once went to a professor and confessed he hadn’t done all the reading. He actually admitted his earnest and sincere effort to read every page and subsequent failure to complete the last few chapters of one of the thirty books assigned.  I still scratch my head at that one (Honey, I think the professors knew the reading load was a tad overwhelming…just saying).

Honest Abe has got nothing on Tim Keller.

But this whole concept of cheating brings up some rather interesting observations… because quite frankly, I know quite a few who do cheat! (No names of course)

What factors influence a person to be so competitive as to cheat on an itty bitty game played over the internet?  No money is involved, no status, nothing other than bragging rights to the one loser you just beat.  So why cheat?

I googled Scrabble Word Finder and about twenty cheater apps popped up.  It seems like we have a culture of cheaters that enable other cheaters. 

Too bad someone can’t morph a lie-detector test into an iPhone app.  But honestly, when a player types in argute or ascesis for a 110 point word, it’s pretty obvious Pinocchio is playing the game.  

So, fess up people…do you cheat or play fair?

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