A Toddler and his iPhone


My Monkey with his two favorite things - his iPhone and his monkey. A pic taken with my iPhone, of course.

My two year old has his own iPhone.

Now, before you think I am absolutely insane to buy an expensive phone for my toddler, let me assure you that I did not run out and drop $300 on a new phone for him. No way. However, being the ultimate tech-geek that he is, the Dude did run out a few months ago to get himself the new iPhone 4G. This meant that we had his old iPhone available to be donated to a good cause. We quickly realized that the best cause was our little Monkey.

The Monkey has been playing with our iPhones since around his 2nd birthday, nearly one year ago. When I discovered how toddler-friendly certain iPhone apps could be for him, I researched the most educational and creative apps and loaded them up on our iPhones. I was so impressed with certain apps, that I wrote a post back in April about my favorite iPhone apps for toddlers. With thousands of hits, that post quickly became my most popular blog post. Either there are a ton of other parents out there letting their toddlers play with their iPhone and iPads or people are simply curious to learn more about it.

It does seem that more and more people are discovering that it’s smart to let your kids play with smart phones. An iPhone or other smart phone can, with proper guidance and supervision, be used as a valuable teaching tool for children. The interactive content on an iPhone can help developing brains learn how to problem-solve and figure things out quickly and, when exposed to educational apps, a toddler’s learning process can actually be enhanced. Consider apps to be a valuable supplement to the teaching process already going on in your home or in preschool.

There are pros and cons to letting a toddler use an iPhone, so here are my helpful ideas on safe iPhone play:

  • It’s easy for adults to drop and break an iPhone (*raises hand*), which means it’s even easier for toddlers to drop one. Buy a hard or sturdy case and screen protector to safeguard the phone as well as possible.
  • If you’re giving your child an old iPhone, make sure to remove the SIM card. If you’re handing your phone over, put it in Airplane mode. You don’t need junior making calls to long-distance relatives.
  • Make sure to remove content that is not appropriate or that may cost you money if used. For example, I had to remove the “Mad Men” cocktail app (a toddler is a little young to learn how to mix a martini, right?) and my Woot app. I really can’t afford for my child to purchase a random t-shirt or a case of wine every day.
  • Load up the iPhone with toddler-friendly apps, pictures, videos, music, and even movies. Need ideas for toddler-friendly apps? You’ve come to the right place. Check out my top 15 apps for preschoolers.
  • Limit the time your child can use the iPhone. 20 minutes is a reasonable time limit for toddlers.
  • Considering that the iPhone has access to the Internet and websites like YouTube, watch your child use the device and monitor his or her activities to ensure that they are not accessing anything inappropriate.
  • Play with your child using the apps or at least check in here and there to see what they doing. Not only is it for their protection but it also helps you evaluate how they use it and what they are learning.

If you’re the parent of a toddler, preschooler, or kindergartner, do you let your children use interactive media or devices, such as an iPhone? Why or why not? Would love to hear your thoughts.