With so many iPhone and iPad apps for kids out there, we probably do not have the definite answer to this question. It depends on several factors that come into the play – such as the age of your kids, how they act with the iPhone and of course what the desires of parents and kids are.
A Child’s Age and the iPhone
First of all let’s see if you actually can leave your kids alone with the phone – can they manage using it at all without your help? As with everything, the younger your child is, the more attention he or she will require. The same goes along with giving your kids the iPhone (iPad, Windows Phone, or any other smartphone for this matter).
Toddlers will usually need some assistance with the apps they play – accessing the menu, starting a game, going to the next level. That’s why if you want the child to manage the game all by himself, you will need to choose the apps accordingly. Since we are on it, I will just mention that our apps for kids are designed in a way that makes them totally usable even for the youngest children. That said, even the basics operations with the iPhone may still require your help at this age. Giving the iPhone during the long drives is not a problem however.
One more aspect coming into the play when we think about toddlers is the way they treat the iPhone. Are they “kind” to it? Or do they throw it on the floor, put into their mouth and try to scratch the screen? While the iPhone can hold a few accidental flights (at least mine did..), if it is a tendency, then you may want to either purchase and additional protective case or even restrict the access to the iPhone at this age. Similarly, you may protect the phone from scratches using a special film covering the screen. However if your child often tries to hurt your smartphone – I would just consider postponing giving it to the child. They will have plenty of time to play it when they grow older.
Kids of the age from 3 to 5 usually may get around your iPhone (and any other gadgets in your home, let’s admit it) without any difficulty. The only thing to be careful about is that they may access the internet and the iTunes – so be wary of the content kids may access and the apps they may download. I would definitely recommend password-protecting any purchases and perhaps even disable the access to the internet.
Older kids need less precautions of course, therefore you could leave them alone with the iPhone if needed. Still, it is good to limit the time your children use the iPhone to avoid the eye strains and a possible over-excitement when playing for too long.
Types of apps and your wishes
If you wish to choose the apps allowing your kids to play alone – that’s all great. Children may play them when you are tired and want to relax, when you are busy or simply when you are out of home. You can easily make sure the time is not just killed by choosing from a wide range of educational apps for kids. Or you may want to consider some e-book or an app developing creative skills.
The desires of your kids are important when choosing the apps as well. There is no point of buying the apps that will not be played. Therefore it is advisable to choose these apps together – at least from a certain age, when you feel that the child is ready to take such decisions and also to spend some time sorting out which apps are better or worse. Alternatively, you may compile a short list of the apps and let your kids to choose some. You may read our previous post talking about children friendly iPhone apps for more ideas.
Finally, I wanted to say that you may want to actually play together with your child. Similarly as your read a book together, you may have lots of fun with iPhone or iPad apps as well. Your kids will surely appreciate this time spent together!
What are your experiences? Do you feel you need to be around when your child plays with the iPhone? We are interested to hear in the comments!