This post was written by StoryBoy’s Creative Director and originally published on the Moms with Apps blog on June 22, 2010.
About a year ago, I took a leap of faith and jumped off the corporate bandwagon to help my husband and his brother with their start-up, SkyVu Pictures, to create children’s e-books for the iPhone. When I first started in the app business, I was still using my old Nokia 6300 and frankly, quite happy with it. My cell-phone shopping mantra had always been, “I just need a basic model that I can use to call, text and take photos with.”
Enter the iPhone 3GS into my life. It took me a couple of weeks to get used to the device and for a while, I carried my Nokia as well because I felt more comfortable using it as a phone while the iPhone was primarily a device to test our apps. But the iPhone finally won me over when I traveled to attend a convention.
To my joy, I discovered that I didn’t need to bring a laptop or a digital camera if I had an iPhone. I could check my e-mail on-the-go, surf the internet and take photos using one device. It was fabulous! Not to mention the fact that the iPhone was also the device that I could use to demo our app at the convention.
Following that discovery, my iPhone and I have been inseparable. I’ve joined the legions of iPhone moms who swear that they can’t live without it. This is all the more true since my job revolves around creating and promoting StoryBoy iPhone apps. It’s amazing what I can do from my iPhone – check the StoryBoy blog, post Facebook updates, tweet about new apps, check rankings in the App Store, try out new apps, surf the internet, check e-mail…the list is never-ending.
The pitfall is that I now feel incomplete without my phone and find that it’s the last thing that I put down before I fall into bed and the first thing that I pick up when I wake up! The other day, my five-year-old caught me checking e-mail while waiting at a red light and wanted to know why I could use the phone in the car when he’s not allowed to. That’s a good question. It is risky to try and check messages or make calls when you’re driving and after my son’s comment, I’ve resolved to limit my use of the phone in the car. I never answer calls when I’m driving so why should checking e-mail or texting be the exception? I think the iPhone’s ability to allow you to multi-task and respond instantaneously through various channels to be liberating and debilitating at the same time.
The New York Times published an article on June 9 about The Risks of Parenting While Plugged In. The feature photo showed a family of four having breakfast with Dad on his laptop, Mom checking her iPhone, the five or six-year-old daughter playing with an iPhone/iPod Touch and the toddler eating breakfast. I’m sure it’s a picture that resonates with many of us, especially those in the business.
It’s ironic that I used to be, and still am to a certain degree, one of those moms who always shunned exposing my kids to too much technology. But what is too much? I guess that varies from family to family but I limit my kids’ screen time, which includes television, computer, iPad/iPhone and Leapster (the closest thing we have to a game console before the iPad) time to no more than 1-2 hours a day. There are so many other forms of active play that kids can indulge in so I try to encourage mine to explore other options when they are available.
During our Father's Day barbecue this past weekend, I had the kids play outdoors and do some sidewalk painting before dinner.
When we first brought home the iPad in April, I refrained from showing it to my kids for more than a week because I knew that the battle would begin once they got their hands on it. Sure enough, my two boys (5 and 2 years old) have fights when we give them iPad time. I recently implemented a reward system surrounding iPad time for my oldest son. He only gets to play with the iPad when he’s finished his homework for the day. And this also applies to the iPhone and the computer. So far he doesn’t get to play on digital technology every day nor does he demand to. I often give him non-media options like a craft activity or board game as an alternative. And even though I’ve produced more than 20 StoryBoy book apps, I still read from printed books to my kids every night because I am at heart a traditionalist and love the look and feel of printed media. Book apps are a great way to entertain and educate the kids especially when you’re on the move but they are not meant to be a replacement for the printed book or for a parent reading to their child.
After dinner, the kids had some iPad time, beta testing our new game, Dragon Checkers, which will be launching next week. It was a big hit with the kids!
Today’s technology is marvelous. It frees you to do so many things that weren’t imaginable just five years ago. As my family plans an upcoming vacation that will involve a 20-hour plane journey with two kids, I am thankful that we will have in our carry-on an iPad, two iPhones and probably an iPod nano to keep the entire family entertained during the long journey. It will be liberating to leave behind the heavy books and games that we lugged on our previous trips to keep the kids entertained. The kids will probably get a lot more than their recommended 1-2 hours of screen time during the journey but I’m okay with that since it will probably save my sanity during the trip.