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iPhone Moms…and their iPhone kids!

By Sarah Klein

I was not the type of child to be trusted with expensive things. I lost jewelry, scratched glass tables, and pushed too many buttons on the family TV. When we walked into a store, I was instructed to keep my hands behind my back, in fear of the strict "you break it, you buy it" rule.

So imagine how hard it was for me to watch when, a week or so ago, I saw a mother place her precious iPhone into the mittened hands of a toddler on the New York City subway. Didn't she know the iPhone was sure to be left behind on the subway car, or worse still, dropped on the tracks?

But apparently, that's a risk she and many other moms and dads are willing to take. Because, as a recent Slate article revealed, the iPhone has become the "ultimate kid-pacification device."

Even though I'm not yet a mom, I can still empathize with a parent's desire for a little peace and quiet.  Although the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests strictly limiting screen time for young children, there is no denying that television, movies, and even video games can, at the right time and place, be the perfect pacifier.

Perhaps then, it shouldn't come as a surprise that parents are now using smartphones, and particularly the iPhone, for the same purpose.

Recent studies have found that moms represent nearly 30% of all iPhone users.  Similar to the soccer mom of the 90s, the "iPhone Mom" has begun to attract the attention of advertisers, who value the influence and spending power of this blossoming tech-savvy demographic.

In October, mobile media company Greystripe dove deeper into the behavior of iPhone Moms and found that 59% also let their kids play with their phone. And these are often very young children. iPhone Moms have children of all ages but 29% have children aged 4 and under.

Over 40% of iPhone Moms even download apps specifically for their children to use, with the majority of those apps being games.

Ideally, more parents would be choosing educational apps to keep their little ones occupied, or at least interact with their child instead of simply handing the phone over as a toy. But for now, the latest technological babysitter makes sense – as long as, like mittens on a string, we devise a way to make sure we get the phone back!

Comment by LER, posted 5/25/2010, 12:27 AM:

I am not a huge fan of allowing toddlers a ton of exposure to media items, like the iPhone. However, I think in moderation and at the right times, it's not a horrible thing! My daughter is 3.5 and we have a handful of apps for her amusement. One I recently found that is great is the Easy Coloring Pad for iPhone or iPad. Most of the coloring/doodling apps out there are complicated requiring lots of buttons/screens to even change color or erase. Those are great for older kids, not so much for young toddlers. I found my daughter got frustrated and I had to keep helping her which sort of defeated the purpose of keeping her entertained while I was driving for example. At any rate, this app is SO easy and keeps our little one occupied on short drives, while dining out, or waiting for an appointment. Check it out: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/easy-coloring-pad-for-ipad/id370387612?mt=8 App works great on the iPhone and even better on the iPad because of the increased screen size. Fun to see kids free draw at such a young age.
Comment by Sara Broers, posted 12/15/2009, 4:25 PM:

As a Mom to teenagers~ I have a hard time letting them use my blackberry. I guess this is a sign of the times. But, I really do wonder what we are teaching our children in regards to valuable items. These phones are not cheap- are we still showing our kids the value of a dollar. I guess I'm just a 40 something Mom lost in time!
Comment by Kim, posted 12/15/2009, 12:44 AM:

I have an iPhone and a nearly 5yo. I download Sesame Street podcasts & some educational games that I use as a reward and to help when we are waiting at a restaurant etc. I am right there with him and watch him like a hawk. He knows if he treats it badly I take it away & he doesn't get it back. So far clear expectations, a watchful eye and strict consequences is working. It's not my 1st choice but it's better than having a child misbehave and cause a scene.
Comment by Dr E Schwarz, posted 12/12/2009, 11:06 AM:

Piecemeal dittys like this are helpful, but they only deal with the tip of the tip of an iceberg. Parents really need guidance in how to plan the digital media lives of kids systematically and comprehensively.
Comment by Robyns Online World, posted 12/12/2009, 10:15 AM:

I am an iPhone mom, but I can't imagine if I had a very small child letting them play with it regularly. Maybe along with me, but not just handing it to them on a subway! ACK! My son is 15 and he always wants to see my iPhone and I rarely let him even.
Comment by Milcah, posted 12/11/2009, 9:51 PM:

Thanks for this article. I'm a homeschooler and yes if the app is worth the download I will download it unto my iTouch. Now mind you I have 1 and 4 children, so imagine what I go through :). Even my 1 y/o wants his shot. I do appreciate the fact that the games are cute and colorful and make learning more fun and my load a little lighter.
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