Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I'm THAT Mom...I Bought My Three Year Old An iTouch

Originally published on SV Moms Blog May 1, 2010, I've found myself repeating these reasons over and over again. Since SV Moms Blog is not longer actively publishing, I thought it made sense to repost this article over here. I have a follow up post about the aps we're using that I'm planning on posting for the holidays.

Now, before you go get all in a huff at me, "What are you going to give her when she's 5 her own cell phone?" Let me explain myself. I NEVER thought I'd be this mom. NEVER! I agree, a three year old (she'll be four at the end of the month) with her own iTouch, it's over the top! But she didn't JUST get it. There was a lot of thought that went into this decision. For starters, she has a sister who is six (seven in two months) who also got one. (That doesn't improve my standing with you does it?) Well, it was part of the decision. If she didn't have the older sister I probably wouldn't have gotten it. I have an iPhone, and I started out downloading a couple free apps for the girls. Stuck at the doctor's office, give the kid your iPhone to play a game. It has been a sanity saver! But boy, did I open a can of worms. Little was constantly asking to play. Part of the problem, she wouldn't stay on the games I'd set up for her. She'd go exploring. She would also go into my apps, my phone, my pictures, etc... And it was fine when I just had one girl with me, but when if both were with me stuck somewhere? The fighting that would ensue was legendary. This would also happen at home, because they wanted to play on it. It's MY PHONE, but you wouldn't know it. I started thinking that if I wanted my iPhone to last, (i.e.-not get trashed) I might need to do find something to get them off of it.

The apps I downloaded for both girls are educational. Little's actually starting to learn her letters and numbers on sight, something she has never been interested in doing before. (Colors and shapes, she a pro, but those are on there too.) Too boring for her in other formats, I think. She has several games that cover those topics and she loves them. Big's games are things like word search, hangman and bananagrams. These games are helping to increase her vocabulary and to figure out new words. From that standpoint these games have been nothing but a win as far as I'm concerned. I've also used apps to teach games like cribbage, sudoku & mahjong. They love it. We own Leapsters, and the girls like them, but to be honest, Little is just now starting to understand how to use them. The pen tool is what she wants to use. It's been hard for her to understand to push a button to get her character to do something on the screen. She wants to have a movement with her hand that matches what's happening on the screen. She's good with a mouse on the computer, so it doesn't have to be a touch screen, but I think that's one of the biggest draws of the iPhone. For kids, and adults, let's be honest, that touch screen is a huge boon, it's intuitive.

Their cousins, who are 10 & 13 received iPod touches for Christmas. Age 10 & 13 seem much more appropriate, I agree. I just felt so weird about getting this "new technology" aimed at adults for my younger children. I looked into the Nitendo DS, but my oldest, who this type of hand held is targeted, isn't really that interested. The games are too old for my youngest. The games for Leapster, or DS are in the $20-$50 range per game. The games on the iPod Touch are often free. I can download a game onto my computer then add it to all three of our iPods. We can all play the same game at the same time! No fighting over who gets to play that right now! On several games, we can play each other, from our respective iPods. Now, I can certainly find games that cost more (the most expensive ones I've seen for their age group are around $5,) but it's not nearly as expensive as the other two handhelds. All of this applies to music too. And Little LOVES to listen to her music. I refuse to play their kids music in the car, so if they had their own iPod, they can listen to what they want in the car with earphones. I can go on, can you see how getting them iPod Touches is a win for all of us?

I made a deal with the girls, if we sold some of their toys on Craigslist and were able to raise the money to cover the cost of half of the iPod Touches, than we (mom & dad) would pay the other half. We sold their Leapsters with games, and several sets of Fisher Price Little People to raise the money. They are still bringing me toys to sell now. So I'm getting a playroom clean out over this too. The iPod Touches I purchased are refurbished, so slightly cheaper than a brand new one. Apple sells them online only, but they come with same one year warranty as a new iPod Touch. They hold 8GB, so they aren't the super high-end version. I got the girls hard covers, in pink and purple, to help tell them apart and to protect them. I downloaded the games I've gotten for them, along with a few new ones I found in the process (Where's Waldo was a new one. Big's a huge fan of the books, so was super excited to see it.) I also downloaded a music list of the songs on my iPhone that they love. Then downloaded all of their kids music from CDs and created playlists for them on their iPod Touches. They were super excited to have "ALL THEIR MUSIC MOMMY!" I also have set the settings so that they can NOT access the internet. I can change that easily where ever we are if I decide to, (say to download something on the fly. Maybe a movie for a roadtrip.) My point is they do not have that kind of access. I wrapped them up and surprised them with fully charged, stocked with games and music iPod Touches for Easter. They were beyond thrilled.

There were no fights this Easter. But it also was not, sit in the corner with your game and stop engaging in the real world. In fact, there was lots of helping each other learn the quirks of various games. Little is "over-the-moon" about the music. Can't stand herself that she has it at her fingertips. I love that she can turn it down and take it with her out of the room. I do need to get her some "kid-sized earphones" as the buds are too big for ears. But it's fine, I just tell her to turn it down. I can only tolerate Wheels on the Bus for so long. I love that there is something else quiet for them to do, that is NOT TV (they're allowed 30-60 mins a day, when there's not thing else going on.) Don't worry, my kids read tons. In fact, losing books is a big threat I can pull out with them, that's how much my kids read. These games are not cutting into that time. I also love that I set time limits on their use, and they can earn or lose their time on the iTouches. It's a very motivating instrument for them right now. I think that's going to last.

While I never thought I'd be that mom, the one who go her kid the iPod Touch. I don't regret my decision at all. My kids have learned some the value of things through the process of "earning" some of the money to pay for the iPod Touches. The games are cheap, and can be used by all of us. They can listen to their own music (and videos, if we chose to do that at some point). It is a great motivation tool. And my iPhone has never been happier.

Original Silicon Valley Moms Blog post.