When Julie Sidder’s daughters were younger, her diaper bag was filled with coloring books, crayons, storybooks and little games in case one of them became restless.
Now that Sidder’s kids are 4 and 7, the diaper bag is gone, but the need for entertainment — especially in restaurants — is not, which is why two-thirds of the apps on Sidder’s iPhone are for her children.
“People have always brought toys, or something to entertain their child, into restaurants and stores,” says the mom, who lives in West Bloomfield, Michigan. “Now we just have better technology…”
More and more parents are discovering smartphones’ similar ability to engage squirmy kids at restaurants, in the car and anywhere else where youngsters grow bored.
Almost half of the top 100-selling education apps in the iTunes App Store were for preschool or elementary-aged children in November 2009, according to a content analysis by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, which promotes digital media technologies to advance children’s learning.
Expert Carly Shuler says the reason for this — assuming the majority of 3- to 10-year-olds don’t own their own phones — is because adults are taking advantage of the smartphone’s ability to act as a mobile learning or entertainment device for their children.
Shuler, a fellow at the Joan Ganz Cooney Center (part of the Sesame Workshop) calls this phenomenon the “pass-back” effect — as in parents passing their phones back to their bored kids.
Har! And it also makes good sense – presuming you’re bright enough to make good choices of what you store on your smartphone for your kid.