Once my kids were beyond putting random technology into their mouths, I have let them play with gadgets. But what about my iPhone? It started innocently enough: a Leapster for a birthday. Then I cleaned out the garage and let them "borrow" a few antique Palm devices. Then I got them hooked on an old iBook G3 running OS 9 and some great old classics (the original "Toy Story" interactive storybook is a nearly-perfect example of the genre). A Palm T|X loaded with games, music, photos and movies might have been a step in the wrong direction, as was the Dell Axim with the same. Access to those was limited until the iPhone came along.
Once a kid has used iSaber (currently unavailable from the iTunes store) or played DizzyBee, it's over. When you show them you can add yet more fun diversions the question becomes "got anything new on your iPhone?" By then it's over.
Now the question becomes, what's the harm? Is there harm? I've limited their use to the inevitable "we're waiting right now" moments. But still, no matter what we've done that day that was new and exciting, if my son plays with the iPhone for 5 minutes that's all Mom hears about when he's going to bed.
I grew up with an Apple ][ in the house and I'm sure that had a hand in my love of tech. But there's also a case for letting kids find their own way, at an age-appropriate level. I cringe when they swing my naked iPhone around using iSaber, expecting Wii-style damage to our windows and the device itself. Yet I can't help but think that getting used to technology early -- something that will increasingly invade their lives as it becomes more embedded in our world -- is maybe a good thing. Everything in moderation, of course. I certainly don't want them erasing my high scores; I'll let iTunes do that.
Son's favorite games: Cannon Game and MotionX Dice. (iTunes links)
Daughter's favorite games: DizzyBeeFree (guess I better buy it!) and aSleep (iTunes links)
We've covered MotionX and aSleep before.