Charlotte Stapleton, 3, from Arlington, VA, has a certain daily routine working with an iPhone. The girl’s tiny fingers swipe through her Halloween photos as a dinosaur, videos with Peyton, her younger sister, Nickelodeon’s famous Victorious series and the girls starts running and hopping around the room gleefully. Charlotte’s parents have seen it so many times before.
The girl got acquainted with the iPhone when she was only 1 year old she would sit beside the device, unlock it and spend much time in front of it.
Now she is interacting with one of her most favorite apps that is the animated video of The Wheels on the Bus. While the children’s song goes on and on Charlotte shuts and opens the doors of the bus, makes the windshield wipers move, lifts up and draws down the bus driver’s hand she easily does all these things with just a swipe of her finger.
Charlotte’s mother, Ainsley Stapleton, doesn’t let her daughter talk on the iPhone but Charlotte doesn’t seem to be willing to talk much she begs for the device to play it.
It might appear strange but someone-, two- and three-year-olds know the ropes better than their parents while interacting with Apple’s iPhones and iPads. They are even called iTots astonishing wunderkinder of the era of technology.
I would never have thought that some of these children have their first experience with Apple’s produce long before their first birthday cake at 6 months!
Are you sure that you are going to choose what they really want for Christmas? Sledges, trains and railways, cadies are forgotten by now. All they want are new apps and an iPad for them not for you.
Mike Elgan dubbed the tablet to be the favorite kids’ toy of the year, he is not even slightly surprised by what is happening now after more than 3 million iPads were sold out during two and a half months after the device has come to the market in April.
According to the Computerworld magazine, children are more likely to be drawn to the iPad simply because it is bigger that the iPhone. The tablet is predicted to change the whole world of children’s culture. Computerworld magazine bets that next year will be a year with iPads as the most requested birthday and holiday gifts for children and teenagers.
But still it does not explain the case with the 3-year-olds.
Riley, 2, from Chapel Hill, N.C., screamed in his sleep: “I want it! I need it! I need my iPad!”
Sarah Casey, his mother, found it really sad her son would yell it when the tablet is taken away from him. It was for herself that she purchased the tablet but once Riley saw his mom with it he wanted a try and Sarah gave it to him.
The researches at the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop study this phenomenon which is called the pass-back effect a grown-up sharing an electronic gadget with a child. The truth is that there are so many applications for the youngest users that they even double the ones intended to be used by adults! One can check a whole section of the iTunes store with the name Apps for Kids.
Riley, just like Charlotte, has his favorite games, tunes in Riley’s songs folder and videos. He already knows his ABCs from the iPad and can easily count to 20 in English and Spanish. By the way his mom chooses half of his apps in Spanish.
Take Ellie Bieler, 4, and her brother Liam, 5, from Norman, Okla., – they are navigating the tablet faster and easier than their father! Mike, their dad, fully understands how harmful computers can be but he also wouldn’t like his children to be teased by the peers.
Find a golden mean
What threatens all the iTots obsessed with their electronic devices? We do not imply the immediate harm from the computers all these children are ready to sit for hours tapping the tablets and phones with their little fingers and becoming more and more anti-social with every coming day.
Riley’s mother claims they make sure Riley is active during the day and does not get the iPad until early evening. But it doesn’t save them from temper tantrums when the time comes to go to bed and put the favorite toy aside.
It goes without saying that toddlers are so savvy when it comes to intricate devices they have been surrounded by computers since they were born.
Adzookie.com has completed a study which showed that nearly 5 million families with children under 6 have smartphones along with 4.7 million families with children from 6 to 11.
Some of these children (5% to be precise) from 6 to 9 might not cry their eyes out asking for a phone just because they already have one. And no one is trying to deny that this is an ordinary part of childhood now.
Andrey Kalita, a systems analyst from Woodstock, Ga, could not tear his 3-year-old son Erik from the iPod Touch once the letter found it. Just imagine the child wakes up every morning earlier than his parents to have time to play the iPod! When the toy is taken away from him the child will start whimpering and keep asking for the device and won’t stop until he gets it.
It is a pretty serious ground for becoming concerned, isn’t it?
Finding a golden mean and setting limits might serve as the only sound solution to this problem according to the most educators.
Cat Schwartz, eBay’s gadget and toy director on HiTechMommy.com, has a son – Jack, 4, who has been an iPhone user for three years already. She thinks it is a nice way to keep the child busy but feels free to take it away once she thinks Jack is overdoing with it.
Cat Schwartz’s iPad is now G-rated and Jack doesn’t have access to the X-rated sites.
When asked about the influence of the suchlike devices on children’s behavior, abilities and reactions, Liz Perle, editor in chief at Common Sense Media, whose job is helping parents find a way with children and technology, honestly says that they do not know anything about it.
Liz Perle thinks the today’s situation looks like the biggest experiment on children with no possible consequences known. Her opinion is close to Schwartz’s one: parents should think and decide what is good and what is bad and that’s it.
Robin Raskin, the founder of Living in Digital Times, believes one should use the educational potential of these devices: children can learn a lot with them quickly and easily.
Robin is sure that tablets and smartphones are way ahead of the likewise cheaper toy tools. The content which is inexpensive can be easily changed but the principle remains the same.
The only thing that Robin finds unacceptable is the price not all the parents are ready to buy a $400 toy for their kid.
What stays overboard?
Still, is there any difference between what was happening in American homes 60 years ago and today with all the high-tech devices?
Patti Shea-Carpenter, a systems analyst in Indianapolis, thinks it was the same about the TV. Patti’s daughter is 2 and she is allowed to play the iPod 2-3 times a week for 20 minutes maximum.
Patti considers the iPod to be just another educational toy teaching her child letters, numbers, colors, etc, in a modern way.
Jessica Ennis, working at Children’s Hospital in Aurora, Colo., is of the same opinion. Her two-year-old son does Twitter of his own he has had his account since he was born – and has an iPod Touch with children apps and videos.
But there are things the children are missing and their parents worry about it a lot thinking and imagination are often not engaged, as Catherine Johnson, a housewife from Louisville says. Her 17-month-old daughter Reagan prefers playing her mothers iPhone to creating things from cardboard boxes as her mother did in childhood.