Tuesday, December 7, 2010

3 Ways I Use My iPhone with My Kid!

In the NY Times, Hilary Stout published an article about concerns many have around their toddlers using iphones (Oct. 15th, Toddler's Favorite Toy: The iPhone). As a parent who bought her toddler an iTouch at age three I was a bit defensive... but it also got me thinking. Oftentimes we think of using technology as an end in itself. If technology is the end, then I agree that we've got some concerns. But technology is only a means to an end. It all depends what you're doing with it, and what parenting decision you're making around the activity. If you let your child sit and watch videos on your iPhone for hours on end... well then that's cause to be concerned. If your child is throwing tantrums because you aren't able to set clear limits around using your iPhone, well that's cause to be concerned. But there is so much more to this technology! Following are a couple things I've done with my kiddo using his iPod Touch or my iPhone.
1. Watch movies, TV shows, or play games during long car rides, plane rides, or shopping trips. Any parent knows the power of this. I don't let him get out of control, but long trips can be long and boring and a bored child is much more likely to start getting into trouble. Trust me, this entertains him better than the backpack full of things my mom used to pack for me (BTW- Thanks Mom!).
2. Recording Holiday Traditions- This project was inspired by NPR's National Day of Listening. Each year we spend Christmas with one side of the family, and Thanksgiving with the other. On each holiday we think of a question my son can use to interview the family. He uses my iphone's voice memo feature to record the interviews. Later I merge them all into one track and save it to a playlist on iTunes. This then becomes part of our holiday playlist- listening to family interviews!
3. Keep an audio journal- This past summer we spent the entire summer in Washington DC! My son is only 4, and so he couldn't keep a traditional journal to track the experience. Instead, I had the idea to keep an audio journal. Then I remembered how hard my mom had to get my brothers and I to actually get us to write in our journals (BTW- Thanks Mom!). I thought that giving him an audience might give his journal more of a purpose than- you'll want to remember this some day! So... I set up an extra facebook account (under a pseudonym) for him and friended his grandparents and some of our good friends with kids. Then, I downloaded TweetMic which would let him record an audio post, add a picture, and write a status update! (I tried FaceMic, but it didn't work right. I ended up having to set up a Twitter account and TweetMic would post to that, and then I set up the Twitter account to automatically post to Facebook). It was awesome! All summer long, when he was really excited about where we'd been and what we'd learned he'd post it for his grandparents & friends could listen to it! They always responded which let us keep in touch with our friends and family we missed over the summer. (Please note- this could be done with both the iPhone and the Ipod Touch with an ipod mic)

Technology isn't an end, it's a means to an end! These are my childhood experiences enhanced! Next time you consider the merits of letting a toddler use technology, take a step back... consider the core activity, not the technology.

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