Saturday, February 20, 2010

Does my preschooler really need an iPhone?

iXL; photo courtesy of Mattel via LA Times

What a difference a year makes.

Last year about this time, when CC was a mere 2, I was pondering whether my baby really needed a BlackBerry. The tyke's version, that is.

This year, as CC has turned a more mature 3, I wonder if she really needs a Baby iPhone -- aka Mattel/Fisher-Price's iXL, an app-based handheld device for kids ages 3 and up that was unveiled last week at the American International Toy Fair in New York.

According to Mattel, the touch-screen gadget, which will hit stores in June for $79.99, features six applications -- Story Book, Game Player, Note Book, Art Studio, Music Player and Photo Album. Kids can even add their own tunes and photos.

Whoa. That's more than my BlackBerry does.

In this year alone, CC has become a lot more savvy on the computer. In fact, I was astonished when she said out of the blue one day, "I want to go to PBSKids dot org!"

We've played a few online games, and her fine motor skills are improving at a rapid pace. She can work a mouse like nobody's business.

So, as younger kids get more exposed to technology that mirrors what their parents are using, is that a good thing? Or something "Gattaca"-like and terrifying?

I'm a gadget-loving mom -- in our household, we have an iTouch, a BlackBerry and an Amazon Kindle. So I get kind of excited about my child learning how to use these as well, especially considering computers are being introduced in the classroom in kindergarten, if not before.

I want her to be techno-fluent and unafraid of new devices, which seem to hit online store shelves faster than you can say Steve Jobs. But I also want her to know the joy of playing with blocks or just pretending she's "Pirate Baby," as she's called herself once or twice.

But, above all, I just want her to have fun and be interested in learning. And she seems to be doing great at that both online and off.

And as to the day my child starts correcting me on my technological know-how ... well, that could come sooner than I think.

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