Officrèche Blog

Babies and technology

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Here’s one of our members writing about technology and babies – thanks Severine!

When my daughter Clementine was 9 months old we took her to France to visit my parents. After a long train journey I sat on the sofa for a well-deserved coffee a la francaise whilst Clem amused herself with one of the many educational apps on my iPad. My mother, a maternelle educator with 40 years’ experience, frowned and mumbled something about my sister and I being raised into fine individuals without the benefit of such devices.

I can’t remember when Clem first picked up my iPad or my smartphone. Friends of ours, with a daughter 4 months older than ours, recommended a couple of apps made by the publisher, Penguin, called Peek-a-boo Baby and Happy Babies. Upon downloading them we found that they were not only sweet and fun but Clem loved them. We would sit with her and play them the way we would with a book and she soon started mimicking animal noises and interacting with the app like it was second nature. These games became something else we could do together.

I remember trying to have a meeting in a coffee shop with Clem in tow. As any parent might expect, without my fullest attention she was quickly losing patience. She reached into my bag, took out my phone, managed to switch it on and load an app she was familiar with. I then went on to have a productive, uninterrupted meeting for the next 40 minutes. Since then any time I might need ten minutes here or there to cook or have a shower, the iPad comes out.

While many parents are embracing new technology there will always be parents more wary of its influence. For years the negative effects of games and technology overuse have been speculated and I understand the fear associated with anything potentially damaging. Though it’s probably too early to tell the full effects that these new technologies might have on development I believe, like so much else, that responsible supervision and moderation is the key.

Our daughter goes to Officrèche and I was delighted to find out how much new technology is used in her care plan. There is an interactive screen on site displaying pictures of daily activities, you are encouraged to email or text your child’s key carer with pictures of your child enjoying any new activities you have shared that they might be interested in incorporating. Officrèche’s own Twitter feed offers both information on weekly activities and a chance for parents to share tips and join conversations over social media. It’s important to us that the nursery we chose is in tune with the way we’re raising our daughter and embraces the brave new world she’s inheriting.

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  • Elizabeth Post author

    I definitely have to keep a firm hold of my iPhone – but Iris knows to hand it to me if it is ringing?! Toca Tea Party and Peppa Pig Birthday Party are particular favourites, while Max loves Baby Eggs from Moo Moo Lab. I agree with Sev though – I treat iPad/iPhone like a book – good for exploration and distraction, but they need swings and slides, drawing & messy play too. And I would find it more acceptable for my kid to become a bookworm than obsessed with Angry Birds…

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  • Charlee

    Absolutely agree with this. There is a big deal at the moment about babies having no screen time at all, but trying to keep F away from screens with an iToddler in the house is just not realistic! He absolutely loves the Baby Touch stuff from Ladybird, and Alia’s current favourite is Nighty Night – which is an interactive bedtime story. It works really well for us, because she doesn’t like to let daddy read to her at night (it has to be mummy!), but she will happily sit and do Nighty Night with him, so we can still take turns doing the bedtime routine.

    If I want shower time or cooking time, I tend to bung on an episode of Peppa Pig, but now that you mention this, I may well switch to the iPad – because it is at least more interactive, and I don’t like the way Alia goes all “zombified” in front of the telly.

    At the end of the day, as you say, it’s all about supervision and moderation. People who are frightened of new technology and its effects are going to find, one day, that their children own a lot of equipment that they have no understanding of – and *that’s* the real danger.

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  • Star

    Elvie loves my iPad. I tend to keep the iPhone out of her reach as she is likely to call someone! With the iPad Elvie is learning to write letters and numbers with a fun tracing app but i think her favourite is the Star Walk app where she spends time exploring the galaxy and investigating the planets. I think its great. Even so, I do not think I will be allowing such things as PS3’s and those other handheld ‘game’ consoles as I see so many children hypnotised by them and seemingly it is to the detriment of their social and communication skills.

    Educational and informational yes, time wasting and brain sucking no.

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