Friday, June 12, 2009


“This is not a toy”

That’s what’s often written on plastic bags, lest parents let their tiny tots put them over their tiny heads.

It seems, though, that the tots aren’t the only ones with tiny heads, and that we have to remind parents that other things aren’t toys, either. On Monday, NPR had an item about parents who give their mobile phones to their toddlers, and are then surprised when said toddlers don’t treat the devices with the respect due expensive and vital electronic equipment.

A one-year old puts the phone in her mouth. Well, yes: that’s what one-year-olds do.

An 18-month-old speed-dials 9-1-1. When the police arrived, mom jokes with them: “I pointed out my youngest and told the officer, ‘There’s the culprit. There he is. Take him. I need some sleep,’ ”


A three-year-old deletes vital data from the phone, and other children send empty email to the entire address book, or simply throw the phone across the room or drop it in the toilet.

NPR meant this as a light-hearted item, but I have a different view: Hey, parents... what are you thinking?

If your two-year-old thought your Swiss Army knife looked cool, would you give it to her? Or, “Here, little Johnny, have one of my cigarettes. Shall I light it for you, or do you want the lighter too?”

I don’t care how much they want to hold your phone. Don’t give it to them until they’re old enough.

You have to wait until they’re at least four.


lidija said...

Of course you can give it to them. You just have to take out the battery first (don't count on the OFF button) and prepare for the possibility of forever losing the phone.

Sue VanHattum said...

So I'm very close to someone who lets her baby suck on her phone. I was horrified. She cares very much about being a good parent. She also doesn't like how often I've said "you can't do that!"

Got any quick data (without having to look anything up) on what that might do to a kid?

Barry Leiba said...

Well, no data, so this is speculation...
I figure you have no idea how dirty that tbing is. But it seems unlikely that the baby would bite off anything that would choke it, or that there's anything toxic involved (unless the kid swallowed the battery or some such.

So I think the main hazard is to the phone by the kid, not the other way 'round.

Michelle said...

Four? That seems a bit young.. I'd be more inclined to wait until about 25 at least :)

ClumberKim said...

Thank goodness Oliver turned 4 before MLB at Bat for iPhone was released this season.

We're *this close* to giving him his own, without phone service (an iPod Touch, essentially), so we can have some peace and know he's not ringing up the relatives in England.

MLB at Bat is a much better way for him to see baseball highlights than say, SportsCenter on ESPN. He can see the games he wants without any adverts for beer or Viagra. Best 10 bucks I ever spent.

Maggie said...

I'm with you, Barry, but I have to say that a car ride with a toddler can be hell, and they know the difference between *your* electronic device and *your old* electronic device from which you've removed the batteries. My children always wanted the TV remotes, and the old one without the batteries was quickly tossed away, even if we pretended to use it first.

My daughter cried incessantly on car rides and it's possible that a cell phone would've made her happy, and if it had, I'm not sure what I would have done!! I was very safety conscious and probably wouldn't have given her anything that could smash her teeth if the car stopped short, but I've seen parents do so many stupid and dangerous things that handing cell phones over to children for a few moments of quiet doesn't surprise me!!