Allowing A Toddler To Play With An iPhone Is Lazy Parenting
I’m a pro at admitting when I am wrong, because it happens a lot. I used to think it was no big deal that my three-year-old occasionally played with an iPhone, but some new stories and my own observations have me changing my mind. Handing my kid an iPhone to appease him because I know it will is just lazy parenting – and is probably doing way more harm than good. I just can’t ignore it anymore.
The 2-year-old who can nimbly use an iPad or kill a gazillion monsters playing a video game isnâ€™t necessarily a genius, says Dr. Manfred Spitzer, a neuroscientist and psychiatrist. That child could be en route to trouble with memory and thinking, a condition Spitzer and others call â€œdigital dementia.â€
I had no problem allowing my child to play with my iPhone. I totally bought into the argument that it was no different than glancing through a book. I’ll admit that at times I turned a blind eye just because he would be captivated by it and I would be able to sneak a few moments to myself. But quotes like the one above and numerous other stories I’ve read as of late are really making me realize that I may be lightening my load at the expense of my toddler’s brain.
The biggest difference I observe, with my child playing with books compared to a digital device, is that if he is playing with a book, he will easily let it go and move on to the next thing if I ask him to. The iPhone is a totally different story. I basically have to pry the thing out of his hands. He seems to experience some anxiety parting with it. That can’t be a good sign, can it?
â€When you use the computer, you outsource your mental activity,â€ Spitzer said in a talk last week at St. Edwardâ€™s University. While computers can be fine tools for adults who are using their minds all day long, theyâ€™re poison for kids, he said.
In the same vein, handing my child an iPhone occupies him way faster than if I hand him a book or a toy. He grabs it and is entertained immediately. I think that’s why at times I’ve been guilty of handing him a phone rather than dealing with getting him interested in something else that will occupy his time while I cook dinner, shower, make a phone call, etcetera. It’s just so easy.
I read an article last week listing all the reasons not to let your child play with handheld devices. I couldn’t argue with a single one. So I decided to go cold turkey with the iPhone – and although he still asks for it occasionally – it really hasn’t been a big deal. The most glaring thing I’ve noticed is that he spends more time in his room occupied by toys that I assumed he had no interest in. Instead of asking for a “phone” which he used to do – he asks for “toys.” And this is just in a week.
Look, I’m on team “mom and dad.” I’m not writing this to guilt anyone – if handing your kid your iPhone gives you the moments of peace that you desperately need, than you have to do what you have to do. I’m just letting you know – as someone who relied on one probably a little too much – it really wasn’t hard to break the habit. Especially when I realized it was my habit, not my child’s.