The Rise of Tech-Savvy Babies

Our discussion about babies and technology today really got me thinking about the risks that all the new technology is posing to babies and toddlers today. Just like a lot of people in class I too have seen babies using iPhones and iPads as if they are three times their age. Two of my cousins have little boys who just recently turned three and I have seen both of them playing games on iPhones and taking selfies when they think no one is looking. We talked about how there really isn’t evidence yet about the effects of letting young babies use this technology because it is so new but I thought I would research it some more and see if I could find anything interesting.

One article that I found that was published back in April on NY Daily News reported that Common Sense Media did a report and found that 38% of babies under two years old use smartphones and tablets. That seemed to me a very high percentage and it seems especially high when you consider that it was just 10% only three years ago in 2011. A few different parents were interviewed in this article and the reporter, Heidi Evans, even talked to doctors and psychologists and they reiterated what we talked about in class; that it is so new we don’t have the answers to whether it is good or bad for young children.

A spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatricians, Dr. Ari Brown, says that they encourage moderation in a child’s use of electronics and also recommends no TV use for children under two.  This made a lot of sense to me but I still don’t see a need to give babies iPhones or iPads at all. They should be playing with the things around them and learning from the environment they are in. Babies brains are developing extremely rapidly and interactions with their parents and loved ones shape who they become. They should be engaging in active exploration and play for the majority of their day.

One of the biggest problems with babies being shaped by the people around them is that now the people around them are always on their phones or computers or tablets so that is what the baby is going to want to do as well. I think parents should not only keep electronics away from children under 5 but they should themselves limit their use of technology around their impressionable babies and toddlers.

I don’t know if we actually explicitly talked about where we all stand regrading having our children or children in general using electronics at such a young age so I was curious to see how many people thought it is a good idea and how many are against it, as I am.

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2 Responses to The Rise of Tech-Savvy Babies

  1. From my perspective, as someone who has two small children, there’s a fine line between iPods/tablets/iPhones being “good or bad.” I agree with the Pediatric Association that screen time should be limited. But as far as banning it all together, unless you have children of your own, it can be difficult to understand how that’s not always possible.

    When my son (who is now eight-years-old) was my daughter’s age (three-years-old), smart phones and tablets weren’t even a thing. Their popularity was just coming into play and so it wasn’t even an issue back then. Now that my son is older, and he likes to have technology around, I make it a point to limit screen time to an hour a day but no more than two. The only time this becomes an issue is on the weekend because he isn’t as busy with after school sports, play dates and homework.

    I’m a single mom–which means I handle all of the packing, unpacking, cleaning, cooking, child rearing, doctor’s appointments, extra-curricular activities, sporting events. Basically, when you have a million and one things going on at anytime it can be pretty darn easy to forget coloring books, markers, activity books and toys for the kids when you’re constantly on the go. It’s honestly a convenience to have a smart phone with educational activities on it.

    It’s easier for me to pull out my smart phone, open up a coloring app and let my daughter play with it while we attempt to go grocery shopping. Rather than have to go through an hour of hearing her scream and throw a fit because I won’t buy her whatever is catching her eye on the shelf or because Mom forgot to bring her favorite play accessory. Keeping in mind that she didn’t use my iPhone or her older cousin’s tablet until she was two-years-old.

    As far as limiting my technology use; that’s also difficult. Everything is digital now from PTO fundraising to my son’s Scholastic book orders, my online class assignments, websites that my son’s teacher recommends for the class to use as a companion to what she’s teaching. The list really goes on and on. Some days I have to choose between spending quality time with my children or working on homework on my Mac while trying to cook dinner and manage everything else.

    Parenting is such a balancing act. But, I absolutely do not agree with the parents who use these devices to “babysit” their children. Or the parents who take their children to the park and then sit there on their iPhone texting the whole time instead of running around with their child/children because they’d rather be scrolling their FB newsfeed. This is a type of technology abuse as far as I’m concerned. Not only that but (similar to texting while driving) it literally only takes one second of a parent being distracted for something to happen to their child. Be that getting hurt on playground equipment or walking off with some stranger. You just don’t know.

    There has to be a balance and given the way technology is making us as adults more socially awkward individuals; I think it’s extremely important as parents to set boundaries and limitations with our children and the technology they use.

    From a parent’s perspective, I think it’s fine to let children use the technology as long as you’re putting a time limit on it. Hand in hand with that, goes what type of app the parent is letting them use. ABC Mouse, Sprout Online and educational flashcards are awesome apps that allow the child to learn their shapes, colors, letters and numbers and have fun doing it. It’s really all about having balance and being responsible. Children crave social interaction with actual human beings (not screens) and it’s so important for healthy cognitive development. Technology can be a great learning device for kids to utilize but in no way should become the only means of learning or be taken advantage of in excess.

  2. I remember sitting with my niece, cuddled in the corner of her mother’s couch with my iPhone in hand. Thinking nothing of it, I swiped my thumb upward and unlocked the camera. Madeline was alarmed and amazed to see her face on the screen and before long, she was smiling and posing for photos. She was six months old. Taking a selfie, but unable to walk.

    Almost two years later, Madeline is a happy, tech-savvy toddler. Instead of my thumb, it’s hers that swipes up. She tilts the phone toward her and presses the expectant white circle, snapping a shot of her smiling face. She’s not only taking selfies; her mother has downloaded plenty of educational and interactive games and activities. But when it comes down to it, she’d sacrifice the alphabet and plethora of shapes for a front-facing camera.

    It’s incredible to think that children are growing up in a world very much unlike the one we experienced. Instead of adapting to technology later in their youth, they are plunged into the deep end of a shallow pool almost immediately; swing sets seem nearly extinct, and puzzles? Forget it. They’ve got Candy Crush.

    This hilarious video offers some insight into how technology is changing. Moreover, into the mindsets of the children using this technology- “old-fashioned” phones, not their “modern-day” descendants.

    When asked about the dial tone heard before making a phone call, one spunky youngster says, “I wasn’t born in the 40’s, so I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

    Is this change- from home phones to mobile phones, from dial-up desktops to fast speed laptops, from books to eBooks- healthy? Are educational games a comparable substitute for traditional teaching methods? While foreign, even to a generation inundated by the use of technology, these familiarities may be fine- a transformation running its course.

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