A few days ago, I had a new comment on a picture of me and my husband on FB which said ‘Aww! So sexy!’ Nothing unusual except that it came from a 9 month old’s account. It felt odd and out of place and nothing near to cute. The comment got deleted a few hours later and got replaced by a comment from the said 9 month old’s mother. She genuinely made a mistake between accounts. No biggie!
A mom proudly announced that her son uses iPad like a pro and sometimes she takes tips from him on how to use it. He even remembers passwords and like for her. He is all of 5 years old and knows his angry birds and fruit ninjas more than he knows how to pedal a bike or hit a ball.
Then, as usual my brain which starts working on overdrive when babies are concerned, thought why does the baby need to be on a social network in the first place? Are babies too much hi-tech these days, too soon?
I get a creepy feeling each time I see a baby account on these social platforms. It’s a trend obviously followed by many celebrity parents. Some of them might be fake but they are there and inspiring some really real babies to come online really early.
There’s Moss Paltrow whose bio reads like “I am the son of Gwyneth Paltrow and that dude who sings for Coldplay (that’s what my mom calls him)” Err!
Beyoncé’s little one didn’t even think it necessary to come out from the womb before having a social network account and tweets stuff like ‘So I guess you’ve seen my photos… Yeah I’m infinitely more attractive than the regular baby’. Closer home, we have Shilpa Shetty’s son and Celina Jaitley’s twins flaunting their twitter account.
One reason many people give is to reserve accounts for their children. After all domain names are like real estate and everyone should invest for their children in them.
I am not judging this decision. I actually like the idea of saving domain names for the kid but I am sure a simple email@example.com will not be what my daughter wants for a long long time to come. She already loves adjectives and that will figure in there surely. But yes, someday she’ll let go of the silly names and want the mature handles and tada! Her parents had it for her for years. Yay! Parents!
But why make it public and impersonate your child. Surely, no parent will ever know what goes on in their children’s head. So basically we are thinking what we think they will be thinking and projecting a certain kind of persona of the baby to the whole world. Isn’t that a little weird?
What is okay is to have a cyberspace for the kids, store his or her pictures in it and writing blogs/notes of how you feel about his/her milestones. That is what all our mommy blogs are all about.
Obviously, someday very soon (sooner than I would like) my daughter will have her own space in this mad space called Internet. Thankfully, social networks have an age limit of 18 years but it will be again Momzilla who has to implement that rule. It’s so easy to enter a fake date of birth and fool the sites. Here comes the new-age parenting dilemma –What is the right age to lets kids use Internet/PC/Tablets/Smartphones?
Most of the pre-schools I opted out, for my child, boosted of computer-aided teaching to the toddlers. Haven’t you heard of LeapPad or VinciPad, tablets specially designed for the pre-schoolers? And there is a plethora of apps on the iStore for this age group. Websites dedicated to babies and toddlers are so many in number which shows that toddlers are on internet already.
I fell prey to an iPhone flash cards app for toddlers and it took me 6 whole months to get rid of the toddler’s addiction. It was a great diversionary tactic. Even though I gave it to her only for 15 minutes maximum at a time but it didn’t feel right. I don’t feel proud when my Two year old can unlock an iPhone and open her own app and could do so from the day she turned one. One positive was that she could recite all the names from the flash cards after some days. She did learn a thing or two. But after a certain point in time, she zoned out and just mindlessly switched through screens.
I feel guilty. I feel proud when she creates a block stack or gives me pretend idlis from her kitchen set.
Do these apps and websites have educational value? Debatable. Unless the parent plays an active part in explaining the screens flashing before them, I fail to understand how they help.
If a parent decides to ration the time that kids use these apps and websites, then maybe they might be beneficial too. But at the age of two, the constant whining for the same needs to be handled with tact.
With so much to explore virtually where is the time to explore the world? If you see all the animals and learn about them on the Discovery App for kids, then will you be interested in going to the zoo and maybe finding an animal or two? If you could drive any car virtually and at any speed, will you be interested in riding a bike in the neighbourhood?
Children have rest of their adult life to become a slave to the technology and internet monsters. They will have a long and pretty vivid digital footprint to look back at and to be able to live by it.
Should we first let them explore the world through their own eyes first?
An erstwhile Quality Analyst, Sirisha Achanta, is now a full time mommy to an adorable 2 year old girl and a part time writer. 🙂 She loves to dance, dream and read a lot!