My toddler loves technology. I know conventional wisdom says that we must keep our children away from too much television and computer time, but I beg to differ. My SmartPhone is my toddler’s favorite toy. Talking on Skype keeps him in touch with both sets of grandparents, who happen to live in opposite corners of the globe. (Literally. They live 12 time zones apart.) We love watching Curious George on PBS during breakfast. Oh, and I just bought my little one an $8 Buzz Lightyear “laptop,” which he absolutely adores. (Did I mention this new MacBook look-alike buys me 5 minutes to answer my email? It’s glorious.)
I do understand that little ones shouldn’t be glued to the TV or to video games. In fact, I only let Paolo watch a few select programs on PBS during the week and Baby Einstein videos. (Currently we have been watching the farm video in Spanish; Paolo loves the cow sock puppet. He thinks it’s absolutely hilarious.) Other than that, he’s not really allowed to watch anything else on television, and at 15 months he is clearly too little for video games. (I’ll have to tackle that when the time comes.)
At the same time, in this day and age, technology is a part of our lives, and teaching moderation is an important lesson. Without Skype, Paolo would barely know his grandparents. With one set in southern Italy, the other in Hawaii and us in the Midwest, video chat has been an absolute lifesaver. Not only does he know his relatives’ names, faces and voices, his Italian language skills are reinforced by chatting with his nonni in Italy.
I’ve read some articles condemning parents for letting their children play on their SmartPhones, saying the screens are the same as watching TV. But Paolo loves to play with mine; he pretends to make phone calls and babbles away into the receiver. He laughs and laughs, and make-believes that it’s for me, passing the phone my way to play along with him. And it keeps him happy and busy during errands or in the car. As a mom, what more could I ask for from a SmartPhone?
When it comes to toddlers and technology, I say moderation is key.