I Don't Care If They're Bad Pacifiers, I Love Toddler Apps!

Julie Ryan Evans

My First App

I admit I was smug in my disdain for apps targeted at toddlers.

Kids don't need things like that when they're young. There are plenty of books and other age-appropriate toys that a responsible, prepared parent can have on hand to occupy and entertain their children in a variety of situations that don't involve games on phones.

Even The New York Times says toddlers shouldn't be pacified with phones.

So when a rep for a toddler app based on Eric Carle's books -- "My First App" -- pitched me, I may have rolled my eyes a bit.

I love Eric Carle and all, but my toddler on my iPhone? Not going to happen.

But since they were offering it to me to try at no cost (thereby avoiding the whole 99-cent charge), I downloaded it just to do some due diligence to the thing and perhaps write about the worthlessness of toddler apps in general.

Let me tell you how many times I've used it since ...


It has my saved life, or at least my sanity, on countless occasions in the last few weeks.

Like the time my son was hit in the the head with a baseball during a night game, when my husband was out of town -- meaning I had to take my 21-month-old daughter to urgent care with us in a rush, without any preparations.

As we entered crowded, germy waiting room destined for a long wait, I had no idea how I was going to keep her from walking around screaming and licking up every germ in the place.

As I tried to check e-mail, I caught a glimpse of the app's icon and thought I'd give it a try to see if it would occupy her for a least one minute. 

And there we sat for many minutes going through the colors and shapes, and playing a matching game. Not only was it fun, but she was learning too.

We ended up leaving the waiting room with no stitches and no major meltdowns -- a success.

There have been several other times this app has come in handy during unexpected long waits or when I'm just frankly unprepared with all my "stuff."

And that's the beauty of toddler apps -- you always (if you're like me) have your phone with you, so you're always prepared. (Good mommy points for that!)

I don't let her play on my phone for hours each day, but I don't think a little here and there is going to do any harm either.

So call toddler apps a crutch or pacifiers or bad parenting, I don't care, but if you call me, you may go straight to voicemail as my kid may be playing on my phone.

What do you think of apps for toddlers -- bad parenting or perfect pacifiers that won't even hurt their teeth?


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