in innovation & new stuff

The bright face of iPhone parenting

The other day my 2 year old son suffered a surprising recurrence of separation anxiety.

Usually he waves me off to work for the day with a kiss and a hug but this morning he really didn’t want me to go. 

Something was different this time. In the past, it was me he was going to miss. This time he didn’t want me to take my iPhone away for the day.

Shock, horror! Toddler addicted to iPhone! Parent supervises children between tweeting and emailing! Technology is so evil, right?

Well, you tell me. The reason he didn’t want me to go to work with my iPhone is because he had such a great time the previous evening learning about numbers and letters thanks to the great applications from Montessorium. (No, I’m not on commission – I just love, love, love their applications and the amazing learning experience they’ve provided for my son).

Old School, meet New School

My son has been using my iPhone since he was about 8 months old. Firstly to listen to nursery rhymes (he now knows and sings more songs that I ever knew, including the second verse of Twinkle Twinkle – who even knew it existed!), he has great fine motor skills honed by playing with Peekaboo Barn (his first iPhone application), later followed by a selection of the great apps by Duck Duck Moose (we started with Wheels on the Bus but our current favourite is Itsy Bitsy Spider). My son can find The Wiggles, Pingu and Peppa Pig episodes on YouTube on the iPhone unaided (although, I hasten to add, not unsupervised).

It’s been with these Montessorium applications that I’ve really been in awe of the power of technology, good design and passionate teachers as I’ve watched my son, already quite interested in numbers and letters, become almost obsessed with them.

Not only does he only ever want to play ‘the numbers game’ or ‘the letters game’ on my phone, the whole world has become his playground as he’s suddenly found himself surrounded by numbers and letters that mean and do different things and create all kinds of new meanings in his life.

Meet him this week and there’s every chance he’ll ask you ‘what’s your number?’ (code for: how old are you – we’re still working on manners!) or ‘what’s your letter?’ (which means, what letter does your name start with).

Better still, as the apps are aimed at children slightly older than him, he needs help with parts of them, creating a beautiful opportunity for social learning mediated by my iPhone.

Everyday he’s creating a more compelling use case for me to buy an iPad without waiting for the second generation to be released. And, as I have a second son rapidly approaching the 8 month mark, he’s also creating a compelling reason for my husband to ‘need’ an iPhone – have two boys, need two iPhones.

Sure, everyday I try to be disciplined about not constantly checking email and Twitter over the heads of my children but I’ve found that by relinquishing the device to the kids and letting them become addicted to learning, it seems to work out very well for all of us.

  1. Leisa – It’s almost impossible to hide technology from kids, so why not let them play with them once in a while?! Like most things, as long as they’re supervised and you edit what the boys have access to, iPhones, iPod touches, etc., can become another learning tool. I started a site called LunchboxReviews.Com that collects, organizes and rates kids iPhone apps. When you’re looking for new apps for the boys, make sure to visit! I’d love to hear your thoughts. :)

  2. My son is now 7 years and he has played with my iPhone since he was 4. He now has his own and he uses it for games like Doodle God, Soccer, ANgry Birds, Doodle Jump etc etc, iWiki to find out about things, Youtube to watch cartoons and a lot of other things. Yesterday we has a quiz competition with World Countries and Flags. He now knows more flags than I do. Once in a while he makes a call :-) We both love this device.

  3. I am impressed by your article! I am going to look into this for my kids… Are there other Montessori apps for our kids you could recommend ?

  4. I like this; the digital newcommers no longer slam their hands on a physical keyboard, or learn to control a mouse. Now everything is virtual, both interface and content.

    We will all be so obsolete in 30 years, yikes!

  5. I read the New York Times article as well and think this is going to be a very big story in the years to come.

    Our kids have always picked up on the new technology we bring before them.

    But now it literally is in their hands…

    Very little hands

    Which is whym from a UX perspective it is nothing short of revolution.

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