It was back in December 2008 that CNET blogger Stephen Shankland wrote “A computer revolution through a child’s eyes,” in which he proudly boasted how quickly his three-year-old son Levi (seen above) had gotten the hang of his dad’s iPhone. Thanks to Apple’s ultra-intuitive interface, Shankland reported, “[Levi] had figured out how to flip from one photo to another by flicking his finger across the screen. He understood with no coaching how to steer the simulated steel ball around the holes in the Labyrinth game by tilting the phone. He loves to type nonsense words on the notepad application using the virtual keyboard, deleting them once they’ve been read. In the three months since I got the iPhone 3G, Levi has learned to take photos, browse them, change the phone’s wallpaper, and, unfortunately, turn off Wi-Fi and switch on airplane mode.”
Aww, how cute. Or not, if a recent New York Times story has anything to say about it…
According to “Toddlers‚Äô Favorite Toy,” writer Hilary Stout also began with anecdotes of how quickly infants and toddlers become fascinated, then proficient, with their mommy’s and daddy’s iPhones, as well as the mass of iPhone apps geared towards the very young. But the story quickly veers into a more cautionary tone:
Along with fears about dropping and damage, however, many parents sharing iPhones with their young ones feel nagging guilt. They wonder whether it is indeed an educational tool, or a passive amusement like television. The American Academy of Pediatrics has long advised parents not to let their children watch any TV until they are past their second birthday.
Jane M. Healy, an educational psychologist in Vail, Colo. said: ‚ÄúAny parent who thinks a spelling program is educational for that age is missing the whole idea of how the preschool brain grows. What children need at that age is whole body movement, the manipulation of lots of objects and not some opaque technology. You‚Äôre not learning to read by lining up the letters in the word ‚Äòcat.‚Äô You‚Äôre learning to read by understanding language, by listening. Here‚Äôs the parent busily doing something and the kid is playing with the electronic device. Where is the language? There is none.‚Äù