The iPhone has not merely revolutionized communication, says Hilary Stout in The New York Times. It's also given parents what may be "the most effective tool in human history to mollify a fussy toddler." Moms and dads are finding that their 1-, 2-, and 3-year-olds can amuse themselves endlessly with this new "Toy of Choice," pressing buttons to see the screen light up, watching videos, or even mastering educational apps. Though the phenomenon can give parents rare moments of peace, some child development specialists worry that handing a toddler an iPhone may be as neglectful as planting him in front of a TV for hours. Are smartphones damaging our babies?
Resist the temptation to hand your kid a phone: As conveniently bewitching as the iPhone is, says Paula Bernstein at Strollerderby, "kids — especially little ones — don't need any more screen time." Letting them get obsessed with gadgets only keeps them from learning how to interact with "the outside world" — and don't fall for the notion that kid-targeted apps are automatically educational. "Do toddlers really need an iGo Potty app (sponsored by the company that makes Huggies) that will remind them when it's time to go potty?"
"Why toddlers don't need iPhones"
As always, parental supervision is key: "Every generation has its vices," says Jack Loftus at Gizmodo. The iPhone is one of ours — parents just have to do their job and make sure toddlers don't get carried away. Besides, "touchscreens and ultra-portable communication devices are the inevitable future," so there is no harm in letting little Bethany get used to "the tools she'll be immersed in when she's older."
"Experts worry toddlers are becoming iPhone addicts"
Used correctly, the iPhone can be an educational toy: It's true that iPhones and iPads can be instruments of "boob-tube zombification" if all your kid does is look at videos, says Wilson Rothman at MSNBC. But some "edutainment apps" are worthy additions to an array of traditional toys. If anything, instead of reactionary panic, what parents need is more research. The real question should be: Which iPhone apps do help kids?
"iPhone as toy? In the right hands, yes"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why Pakistan won't hunt down the terrorists within its borders
- Sorry, GOP, tax cuts don't pay for themselves
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Capitalism isn't a cure-all for Cuba
- Hey, bosses: Stop giving bonuses to your employees
- You should be furious about Hollywood's gutless retreat on The Interview
- Why the Sony hack changes everything
Subscribe to the Week