Wednesday, December 18, 2013

There is no i in "Parent". Why you shouldn't need a iPad to poop.

In the evening, a hush settles over my house.

That is not because everyone is sleeping, or absorbed in a good book. It is because I told the kids that they could look at their computers and iPads after dinner for an hour. It is silent. They have earphones on, and retreat to separate corners. Even my husband - who completely rejects technology to the point of not having email and still using a flip phone - is busy with his own tablet. In the last 6 months he has gone from playing Tetris to Bejeweled Blitz and now to Angry Birds, because I told him Candy Crush would make him crazy.

It sucks, and I feel guilty. As guilty as I can feel while I am checking my email, paying bills and cruising Facebook, I am trying to be okay with it. One hour a day won't kill them. But it's kind of killing me. Sure, they read. And play. And interact. They don't spend hours locked in their rooms. Just one hour.

And thank goodness, I have those limits.

For new parents, who are still figuring out what feels comfortable in terms of their kids and technology, I would like to point out 2 items currently on the market that seem to take things a little too far:

The Apptivity Seat from Fisher Price
For kids up to 40 pounds.
Then they have to hold their own damn iPad.

The IPotty from CTA Digital

Never mind, that iPad is yours now.

It turns out there is an app that will teach you how to use the toilet. And plenty of engaging videos in black and white to entertain and educate your infant. The problem is that teaching and entertaining and soothing your kids and teaching them about personal hygiene, these are basic parenting responsibilities that - as challenging as they can be - are the cornerstones of parenting and cannot be relegated to a small touch screen.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

My issue is not with age-appropriate short-term screen-viewing, or fun apps that teach your kid the basics.
My issue is putting your kids in a situation where they have to look at the iPad. (And also teaching them to take an hour every time they need to poop.) When they are in those seats, you can't really see what they are looking at on the screen. In fact, you can't really interact with your kids at all from behind the screen - and I think you will regret that later.

With TV, they can sit in your lap and cuddle. Or play, and maybe from time to time look up at the screen.
With an iPad, they can put it down and walk away.
When they are stuck in a seat with an iPad (or a mirror) looming 12 inches from their nose, the ability to look at something - ANYTHING - else, like the ceiling fan or the cat or the dust bunnies under the couch, is practically impossible. 

And let's not even get into the germs on that potty thing. ((((shudder))))

Listen, here's the bottom line: This is going too far. Give the kid the Sunday comics and tell them to go take a dump like generations of kids before them.
And those bouncy seats work like a charm - no screen required. I promise.

Put down the technology. There will be plenty of time to worry about their screen viewing later on. Your sons will spend plenty of time in the future with their pants around their ankles staring at a screen, I can guarantee it. And that ceiling fan? It is more entertaining than you realize.

1 comment:

Genesis Hansen said...

You nailed it!

I have two kids under the age of five, and I get why desperate parents rely on technology to entertain their kids. There have been days when I didn’t know what I’d do without my iPad. But my reaction to these products was the same as yours:


I see stuff like this and I understand why people turn into screeching Luddites when we talk about using tech with kids. As far as I’m concerned, technology itself isn't inherently good or bad – it’s all in how you use it. So I don’t automatically assume that screen exposure = bad parenting. But sometimes the line is pretty clear and I think these products definitely cross it.

I'm a librarian and I work with a fantastic group of people who are dedicated to helping parents, caregivers, educators and other librarians make wise choices about using this ubiquitous tech with kids. Rather than shaming parents or setting arbitrary limits around “screen time,” we're trying encourage them to engage WITH their kids around technology as much as possible, and use it to build relationships as well as skills. And also to know when to put the screen down, of course. :-)

You perfectly captured the problem with these products, and you gave me several good laughs in the process. I’ll definitely be sharing this post with my colleagues. Thanks!