Believe it or not, the hottest toy for toddlers these days doesn't directly involve epic names like Elmo or Nick Jr. It involves your personal and professional livelihood -- with a side of sanity. It's your iPhone.
A recent piece in the New York Times cites the iPhone as the "most effective tool in human history to mollify a fussy toddler, much to the delight of parents reveling in their newfound freedom to have a conversation in a restaurant or roam the supermarket aisles in peace." But it goes on to caution parents that this same wunderdevice is now concerning some childhood development specialists.
Dr. Gwenn Schurgin O'Keeffe, a pediatrician who is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics' Council of Communications and Media, says that a revision to the AAP's "no TV until age 2" guideline (which includes handheld devices like the iPhone) is imminent. She told the Times, "We always try to throw in the latest technology, but the cell phone industry is becoming so complex that we always come back to the table and wonder should we have a specific guideline for cellphones. At the moment, we seem to feel it's the same as TV."
Another expert interviewed for the piece, Tovah P. Klein, the director of Columbia University's Barnard College Center for Toddler Development, expressed concern that kids will become more into what's virtual than in real life. "Children at this age are so curious and they're observing everything," she said. "If you're engrossed in this screen you're not seeing or observing or taking it in."
I've been known to whip out the almighty handheld to do a little toddler-handholding on occasion, such as during rowdy restaurant visits, plane rides, etc. It allows my husband and me to sneak two words in edgewise. And my daughter has become more adept at swerving in and out of apps than I am! But I definitely limit its use to situations like these, which occur once a week at most; twice a month at best.
How about you? How often do you use your iPhone to placate your toddler? Think it's a good thing, or a bad thing?