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article imageIs the iPhone a child's toy of choice?

By Ken Wightman     Oct 19, 2010 in World
An article in the New York Times this past Sunday called the iPhone "the most effective tool in human history to mollify a fussy toddler."
Reportedly, one of the first words uttered by many of our youngest generation is "iPhone!" This may be overstating the case. "Da!" and a waving hand with finger pointing at the popular Apple device may be more accurate.
For many children, some still babes in arms, the iPhone has become the toy of choice. They will sit and watch video trailers on YouTube, such as Despicable Me, over and over. The screen tapping and finger sliding actions that control an iPhone all mesh perfectly with the motor skills of the very young.
The phones have proven to be amazingly rugged --- standing up well to being dropped by the enthusiastic techno geeks. Of course, when one stands only 22 inches high a phone does not have far to fall.
Many parents would say "Been there and done that" on reading in the New York Times how one mother recalls the first time her daughter, barely 2 years old, held her husband's iPhone. "She pressed the button and it lit up. I just remember her eyes. It was like 'Whoa!' "
A mother contacted by Digital Journal said she shot a video on her iPhone of her parents departing on an extended vacation. While the grandparents were gone, mom played the iPhone video for her young daughter who giggled when her grandparents waved to her from the screen. Soon the little girl was waving back. Returning, after almost six weeks away, the grandparents were greeted with a waving welcome from their laughing granddaughter. There was no playing strange.
Software developers understand the attraction of the iPhone to the very young and have released apps designed for little children but marketed to parents. These "educational" apps may be as simple as electronic flash cards teaching reading and spelling.
Other apps are as new and different as the iPhone itself. Pocket Zoo streams live video of animals from zoos around the world. iGo Potty, sponsored by Huggies Pull-Ups training pants from Kimberly-Clark, rings parents reminding them when it's "Potty Time." The app comes complete with "Fun Stuff" for children.
Books are still good  but only when there is no iPhone handy.
Books are still good, but only when there is no iPhone handy.
All this interest in iPhones by young kids is not without detractors. Many pediatricians see the phones as similar to television and suggest the same guidelines. The American Academy of Pediatrics has long advised parents not to allow children to watch any TV until after their second birthday.
Many question whether electronic flash cards are a good way to teach language. Rather than handing a child an iPhone, perhaps it would be better to simply spend more time talking directly to the child.
But maybe it is not an either/or situation. No one is going to argue that children do not need interaction with the people in their young lives. Of course, they do. But electronic devices are going to play a big part in their futures, possibly a little interaction with an iPhone can be a good thing.
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