Friday, July 9, 2010

iPhone: iGift or iCurse

This post is a departure from my other two summertime themed discussions...well not really. Here's the thing, it's summer and although my children do spend a good deal of their time outdoors, at camp, or otherwise engaged in some activity; they still spend a good deal of time indoors doing quiet activities. With this summer's heat matching that of the equator and the fact that I have two children who still take midday naps, there are times when the house is quiet and my older girls have to entertain themselves with quiet activities.

(I'm getting to the iPhone part, stay with me)

Usually the girls will read, or play on the computer or practice math skills, color or watch a movie. However in true, "I'm bored, there's nothing to do in this house" fashion, that stuff only lasts so long.

(Okay here comes the iPhone part)

Enter the iPhone (Insert your own "dun-danah-dah!" music here)

The iPhone. Oh how I love it with it's all-in-one usefulness. I can nurse my baby with one hand, print out my eBay receipts effortlessly with the other. I can check email, text my momma, post something to facebook and even change the channel on my TiVo box all with the swipe of a finger. What's not to love?

(I'm about to tell you)

The thing is this, the iPhone is sooooo easy, so much fun that even a child can use it, that...EVEN A CHILD CAN USE IT! DANG IT! Why did they put all those fun colorful games that remind me so much of my childhood games? Games like doodle dots, Mad Libs, tic-tac-toe, aquaball, and many more! My husband and I love to kill time playing our childhood favorites and many new favorites as well. Unfortunately so do our kids.

What started out as iDiversion at the doctor's office, or iPeacemaker when one child didn't get to do what the other one was doing, or iBribe when we wanted them to do something and they were less than inclined, has now turned into iObsession. The other morning my two year old who calls me daddy, came and disconnected my iPhone from its charger and said "daddy phone!" My two year old swipes the iPhone with the best of them. He actually has somehow created folders on my 3G which organize my apps, which I find very cool, I just wish I could edit them myself somehow. Currently I have a travel folder for apps, but no travel apps. I will have to have him give me a quick lesson.

Okay so here is the dilemma. Our children are so into the iPhones and who can blame them? A friend and neighbor told me two years ago that he was going to get all of his children iPhones and that all would be right with the world. I thought he was crazy. Now I think he's a freakin' genius! My two year old is never as quiet as he is when he sits and plays pop a shot on my iPhone. He will iBowl for hours if I let him. When my oldest is playing on her iTouch (yes, she was old enough to make the executive decision to sell her Nintendo DSi and all it's accouterments for an iTouch) it turned out to be a good move for us. She loves to listen to music on it, she has a photo album of family, she can download books to read on the Kindle app, and she loves the games. Plus the Nintendo DSi games cost $29-$40 while I can download a cool app for .99-$1.99 in most cases. We are an Apple family. Both my husband and I have iPhones, we run all our music through an iTunes library for the house, we have Mac books...get what I am getting at?

(I am about to get you there, if you don't get it)

It seems to make sense to just let our kids play on the iPhones. I did the math and we actually come out cheaper. We have two iPhones. My husband has to upgrade for work in a few months and that usually means we sell our old iPhones. This time around, I suggested keeping them and letting the kids use them in the house minus the phone feature. We can get one game for .99 or $1.99 and it can be used on all iPhones or iTouch. The children all know the iRules when it comes to the iPhones. Everyone must be in a seated upright position to use the iPhones. No erratic behavior. (that one is for the 2 year old) No liquids or foods are to be used while using the iPhones. Get my drift.

See I do realize (boy do I realize!) that the iPhones are an adult toy and have to be treated as such. I also realize the electronics specifically geared towards children are just as fragile if not more so than the iPhone and many do not offer the same selection of games (peace and quiet) and value that the iPhone does. So what do I do? Do I keep getting jacked everyday for my phone? (my son just woke up from his nap and yep, you guessed it, just took my iPhone) Do we go ahead and upgrade and just let the kids use our old iPhones with our supervision? Do we make a hard line and banish the kids from the iPhones all together and force them to play on their Nintendos or Leapsters while we play gleefully on our iPhones?

We created all of this wonderful technology and have given our children access to it in many forms, but where do we draw the line? I would not consider this as an option if we were not a heavily technical family and didn't already own the phones. I don't think I would purchase a new phone for any of my children. I was initially against the iTouch, but my husband convinced me otherwise and it is turning out to be a good life lesson in needs verses wants, saving and responsibility for my soon-to-be 9 year old.

On the other end, is it even realistic to think that this generation of children is going to stay outside all day and play with a ball and a stick like we did? I can remember going South to visit relatives who seemed to live in a different time, with no cable, no electronics; just a yard with endless grass, trees and the good ole' imagination. Fast-forward 30+ years and my mother is texting me and asking for recommendations for wireless routers. So really, if my children did go visit relatives, they would be smacked in the face with technology, not Pecan trees.

So that is the iDilemma. The iPhones have come as a gift and a curse. We will have to wait and see how this iDrama plays out. Stay tuned...