This week a Legal and General survey showed that sixty per cent of toddlers pick up and play with gadgets at home.
Don’t write this off as a meaningless statistic – from my own experience, I know that children love to play with technology you’d rather they left alone.
Legal and General’s concern, naturally, is whether parents have insured high-value items correctly.
My concerns these days lie more with whether or not I’ve protected my data well enough – after my one-year-old son picked up my iPhone one morning and deleted Angry Birds. I had three-starred every level. Angry Birds players – you know my pain.
Since then I have changed the settings on my phone to ensure that apps can no longer be deleted merely by holding down on the screen and clicking yes.
You might ask why I don’t just keep him away from the phone, but it’s really not so simple. Children are drawn to visually exciting and dynamic items such as smartphones, as well as things that just feel nice to poke and prod (I have witnessed babies fighting over a remote control before). And they can be surprisingly quick when they really want something.
Plus there’s a simple attraction to the objects they see parents using, but don’t get offered themselves.
Touchscreen technology seems particularly intuitive for toddlers. While it can be hard for them to understand that pressing a button can make something happen on a separate screen, dragging objects around on an iPhone, for example, has an immediate and obvious effect.
Of course they are then perplexed by similar non-touchscreen products. Kindles confuse my son no end – he doesn’t understand why nothing happens when he touches the screen. He still enjoys throwing it on the floor, however. Maybe I should look into insurance after all…
He’s attracted to laptops, too. The picture above shows him gazing adoringly at his dad’s MacBook Pro back when he was about four months old. Give him a minute alone with it and he’d probably find a way to send out some emails.
Naturally (photo opportunities aside), I do try to keep him away from gadgets whenever possible – to protect them and him – but as a tech geek myself, I find it fascinating to see how quickly he becomes familiar with such devices. Are we raising a generation of children that will be typing out words on touchscreens before they can handwrite their own name?