My girlfriend, Mary, complains that in the middle of the night, she often finds her four-year-old son, Noah, tucked in bed with a tub of ice cream in one hand and her iTouch in the other. “Oh, how adorable,” we both say. I beg her for a photo of that scene and we laugh about how clever our kids are these days.
But after fireweed popped up in my yard, I started to worry whether this cleverness was going to kick me in the butt once school started. This summer, my kids lost interest in the hundreds of educational and game apps my husband and I loaded up for them on our iPhones.
At first, I was impressed that Kyra would rather write sentences with the notepad app on my iPhone than play Angry Birds. Her notes sprouted loving things like, “My Mommy is the best” or cryptic messages like, “Ethan lost.” Maybe, I even encouraged it.
At dinner, she often tried creative writing. Here’s a poem she wrote on her own when I was dining with a group of writers.
New Moose is getting in bed.
New Moose is going to school.
New Moose is doing a job.
“See, I’m writing,” Kyra would say. “Like you.” And my friends noted how smart my child was and that I must be so proud.
Even Ethan, who just turned three, wowed me with photos or videos that he figured out how to capture with my old iPhone. It was interesting to see what caught his eye and how he saw the world from his height. One time, we lost his favorite toy and we were able to scroll through his photos to see when he had it last.
Lately, however, updating or syncing our iPhones with our computers often fails probably due to the hundreds of photos and videos Ethan’s racked up and I haven’t had time to delete.
Then one day, Kyra managed to hide all my main apps like phone, text messaging, email, iPod, and browser into random folders that she created and labeled with proper names like “Games” or “Kyra” or “Ethan.”
Fortunately, she did not delete them, but that could easily happen next. I realize that I should deprive them of iPhone privileges all together or purchase a Leapster or some kind of toy that offers similar technologies. So far, I haven’t and I’m wondering why.
With school starting, I know I’m going to have weak moments when I’m driving the kids home from school and they are tired and hyper and screaming and then I’ll hand them my iPhones (yes, my old one and new one) to get a few moments of peace.
Or maybe, unable to find a babysitter, I'll take them along with me to some work meeting and have to depend on that iPhone to keep them entertained.
Plus, I’m embarrassed to admit that the geeky side of me wants to know how rapidly they can pick up on technologies. Already, my daughter knows how to manipulate the avatars in the apps faster than I do. She consistently finishes games that I have trouble mastering. And I love that she tries to spell and write sentences and construct stories. Isn’t that advancing her learning capabilities?
Finally, I actually do appreciate that she has the time to organize my apps when I never seem to get around to that task.
What’s your excuse for letting your kids play with your gadgets?