Is There an App That Will Raise My Kids?

Is There an App That Will Raise My Kids
Can smartphone apps really help with parenting? (Stock photo)

Yesterday, my 2-year-old ran to the door of her preschool classroom yelling, "Mommy!" She literally jumped into my arms and then she squeezed my neck as tight as she could.

She had been there for only four-and-a-half hours, but she greeted me like it had been months. And I beamed, oh yes I did. I think I even looked over my shoulders to make sure that the other adults had noticed how much this little person loves and craves time with me.

A 2-year-old can make you feel pretty darn special.

And then, the second thing my darling daughter said to me, I kid you not, was this: "iPad?"

As in, Where is the iPad? Or, Can I play with the iPad? Or Give me the iPad right now, you wretched witch, before I dissolve into a screaming, fist-pounding, tantrum!

Of course, all the other parents there definitely noticed that. Probably especially the one who has never missed a chance to comment, "Chocolate, huh? Hmpf" when I forget to wipe those remnants of Nutella toast off my little girl's face.

A mother who was standing right next to me for the iPad comment turned then and said, "She knows how to use an iPad?"

Thoroughly shamed, I had to admit that she does. What else could I do? I was stone-cold busted. So I quickly added, "I have two older kids so, you know, she learns that stuff watching them."

The implication being that I would NEVER let an electronic device babysit my toddler.

Oh no, it's all non-toxic, BPA-free, Melissa and Doug wooden toys and sustainably harvested organic food in my house. No ma'am, not us. Oh, and my other kids, they only use the iPad for educational games. And for no more than 30 minutes a day. They spend the rest of their time studying Art History and Algebra and playing croquet on our pesticide-free, perfectly manicured lawn.

But this mom next to me didn't care. She wasn't judging. In fact, not only was she not judging, she was impressed. She thought it was GREAT that my toddler is capable of operating an iPad. She wanted to know how she could teach her son to do that. I really love these Millennial Moms, by the way.

I didn't have the heart to tell her that it was a skill he would quickly pick up if she would just let an electronic device babysit her kid from time to time. You know, when she's, say, writing a column on a deadline. Hypothetically speaking, of course.

So I was really interested in reading this recent study about how moms use smart phones and tablet computers.

It's a hot topic, to be sure, coming on the heels of viral blog posts that shamed moms for playing on their phones instead of watching their children and the posts in response defending the practice.

Where this new study gets interesting, however, is in reporting that while parents are indeed using phones and tablets more than ever, we're actually using them to entertain our children almost as much as to entertain ourselves.

Maybe that's not a bad thing. My older kids' school has been on a relentless fund-raising push for a couple of years now in order to buy -- wait for it -- iPads. Dozens and dozens of iPads. Because, where we learned cursive in elementary school, kids now learn coding -- and there's an Oregon Trail game app for the iPad. The dysentery is just as brutal as ever.

I'm not saying that kids should have unlimited screen time. They still need to get outside, play, explore and find their ways in the very real world. I mean, how else will we parents be able snap adorable pictures of them climbing trees to share on Facebook?

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