Computer Activities for Toddlers

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  • 10 mo old very interested in devices

    (11 replies)

    My 10 month old has recently started showing a lot of interest in our phones and computers. If you have toddlers/preschoolers — how do you think your early behavior with respect to devices influenced your child's relationship with them now? I'd also like to know what to expect about how her interest will develop... for your children is this something that waxed and waned, or once they discovered devices, was it pretty much a continual balance seeking from then on?

    My hope is to get off on the right foot for device relationship as she gets older. I am no technophobe and want her to be technology literate and acknowledge all the awesome things it allows us to do, but also effectively manages their addictive potential. 

    p.s. right now she sees no TV and only screentime is Facetime with out of state family members... not willing to change our habits on this regard barring extreme new information. She gets plenty of embodied play, outdoor time, other children, etc. and has a great attention span for playing by herself in meatspace so I'm not really worried about balance there. It's more about not shooting myself in the foot by restricting or allowing now. 

    You sound like a new parent.  If you are not, my apologies.  Ten month old behavior has many milestones, but techno precocity is not one of them.  They move like the wind, low and fast.  Everything is edible, including cell phones.  Their motor skills explode, so everything becomes manipulable and interesting, including your electronics.  Most importantly, they began to 'communicate."  This is babbling time...but don't babble back...talk back... and look at your kid when doing so.  Focusing on 'tech' is not what to do now.  Focus on talking...making eye contact...and having your child respond to your words and movements.  Don't concern yourself with her relationship with tech.  Focus on her relationship with you, and how you two interact.  In this hyper connected world of ours, I worry that you may be missing the forest for the trees.

    This may be an unpopular opinion, but
    I would not recommend allowing any child, especially one so young, use an I-Pad or play phone games or anything like that. I cannot fully explain it as I am pecking at my phone screen answering this question, but I am going to try and include a link "Screen Time Syndrome"-don't know if it will work, but the link is to a great article about this very subject. If you are unable to view the link and are interested please feel free to send me a message and I can forward the link to you another way.
    Just a point I want to make before ending this reply; people who work in the tech industry do not allow their children to use the products, Bill Gates raised very low tech kids-this is because they are aware of the damage that screen time can do to a brain that is still forming. Food for thought.
    http://deeprootsathome.com/screen-time-childs-brain

    Short answer: you don't need to worry. It is pretty much a phase babies go through and a good reminder to put your phone away in her presence (just put it away if she becomes fixated on it). There are two things to think about: 1) how do you interact with your child? and 2) what rules do you create for screen time? The first is less about what your child may think about devices and more about your relationship with your child. You want to make sure that you are not always on your phone when with your child. Give your child (even as a baby) ALL your attention SOME of the time when you are with her and just watch and interact with her so that you can have a really strong connection as she grows up. For the second question, doctors recommend no screen time before the age of 2. After that I recommend going slowly! Kids need to understand the real world first before they get hooked on the virtual world. Having consistent boundaries is helpful. You absolutely don't have to worry that your child will get left behind. Kids are very interested in technology and it is so addictive that they will eagerly wear you down for more and more time on it!! The most important boundary IMO is to not allow screen time during the week so that they can spend more of their time screen free than screen days. 

    My daughter is 20 months and is definitely interested in phones, but no more so than she is in anything else in her environment that adults pay attention to :) What works for us at the moment is to really minimize device use when she is around/awake; phones/screens are brought to her attention for an occasional photo and for Skyping with out-of-state grandparents once a week, and otherwise we really try to keep them out of reach. I don't police other adults' screen use in our home but find that most people are conscious enough to ask; if she approaches an adult at the playground who is using their phone or tries to fish one out of someone's bag, I calmly take it away and say "Phones are for grownups."

    We are probably going to stick with very minimal screens for quite a while -- everything I've heard/read suggests that children who are introduced to touchscreen-type technology later don't take long to gain parity in use (since it's all designed to be really, REALLY user-friendly). The one lingering concern I have is the "kid who binges on sugar at other people's houses" problem, since we're not planning to let our preferences dictate the way her friends use media in their homes, but I figure we can deal with that one if/when it comes up, and what we do in our house is most important.

    I have kids and all like devices (the first grader has his own computer, the preschooler has her own kindle fire) but use it moderately and monitor their own use.  For example, I'll tell them you can play 2 games or you can watch a show, and they will do so and turn it off.  They have been exposed to and allowed screen time in moderation from very early age and I don't see negative side effects from this.  Kids are bright, use devices for both education (amazing educational apps out there to supplement school instruction) and entertainment purposes (pbs kids has some really good videos for kids). Though it really depends on the kid.  Some kids will go crazy for screentime and taking it away will cause a melt down and if I was in that situation I would have just said no screen time period, but my kids use it in moderation and never complain (too much) about turning it off and it never leads to a tantrum, so I have been allowing it from early age sparingly though screen time use definitely has increased as they got older and use the educational apps/website more.  

    I may be in the minority, but as the parent of tween/teens (who only had limited tv ) my advice would be DON'T DO IT! WAIT AS LONG AS POSSIBLE to introduce any technology to your child at home. If you have not yet read Richard Freed's "Wired Child" PLEASE pick it up and read it. Technology companies employ neuro-experts to design their products to 'hook' us! I have watched it in my own kids, who have VERY limited exposure (no cell phones and only Minecraft and Roblox but can't get off YouTube videos OF gaming) and read over and over on posts here from desperate parents whose kids are addicted to tech. We only grew up with TV (I'm old enough to be pre PC) and we are so much better off because of it, I really worry about all of us and our addictions to screens.....

    Hi - original poster here. Thanks for your replies. To clarify based on some off list responses, I'm not talking about allowing/encouraging screentime, video watching, game playing etc. At her current age that would require me to "set it up" for her anyway which I'm not going to do. 

    I'm talking about whether or not you would allow your 10 month old to futz with it. Left to her own devices she'll mouth it and toss it around and eventually press the iPhone button at which point the screen turns on or Siri talks to her and she looks mystified. My question is would you permit this type of organic exploration? And would you anticipate it leading to (more excessive than normal) device fascination later or other ill effects? Or like will she figure out games at the ripe age of 18 months and then I'll have to rip the phone from her grasp etc.

    thanks!

    I’m going to add one more curve ball to to children using devices. Aside from what has been stated about the impact on children’s brains, my husband (a medical doctor / biohacker) is working with researchers who are realizing the impact of electromagnetic fields (EMF). Devices are a necessary evil, but use over time adds up and they are damaging to cells. The longer we withhold from our children, the better we will be - emotionally and physicially (and intellectually) in many ways. 

    My my oldest son was always interested in devices. The best way we curbed hai curiosity is we made it a habit (oh, how challenging this was), not to use one phone in front of him. We treated it like alcohol - don’t use in front of kids. His desire dropped off after we learned to put other phone and computer away. He’s now eight and does coding classes two times per week and he can do his homework on the computer for up to one hour per week. This will obviously increase as he gets older. So for now, he gets four hours per week of computer time and the remaining coding activities are done via games. Just something to consider (from a family who absolutely has our own love affair with devices). The flip side: our kids are forced to be creative. 

    I don't see any positive side to letting a child under one year old explore such an expensive and enticing device. She doesn't need to learn anything from a phone or computer for a few years at least. 

    It is easier not to give it, than to give it and then later have to wrench it away. A 10 month old will yield an iPhone very easily, but it will get harder as she gets older. So if you can restrict it as much as you can now, life will be easier for you later. As for your comment about whether it's OK for a 10 month old to explore and mouth an iPhone. No. It is a $600-1000 device, so your baby should not be playing with it like a toy. Babies drop phones on the floor and break them, and also "misplace" them the minute your back is turned (ask any parent if their baby has ever lost their car keys). Moreover, babies are at the age when physical manipulation of objects like blocks and chew toys is what they need to grow, and a digital device won't teach them what they require. Lastly, phones are also usually the dirtiest thing in the house, so for that reason as well I wouldn't allow a baby to chew on it.

    I spend and spent several days a week caring for my grandtwins (now 4), and often encountered issues of how to use objects, whether chairs, electronics, or any object of everyday life such as whistles, flashlights, etc. .I concluded that man made objects are best used for the purpose for which they were designed, both for reasons of safety, pedagogy, and care of the object itself.

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Questions & Advice Related Pages

Computer Games/Activities for 15-month-old

Jan 2010

Just recently, our 15-month-old daughter ''discovered'' the computer--as well as our camera with its ability to review pictures and videos. Well, she's now somewhat obsessed. She'll sit for up to an HOUR looking at photos and videos over and over again. From the moment she wakes up or gets home from the nanny, she's at the computer desk or at the counter where our camera resides yelling ''Mom.Mom.Mom.Mom.Mom...'' until I come over and get her involved. At the moment, I only know of one website-- starfall.com--that provides free activities online that are somewhat engaging. I'm just wondering what else other people have found that are good games or videos for pre- toddlers on the computer. Either free on line or something you have ordered. I'm getting really bored with our photos and the site that I know of. Thanks! help!


My kids enjoyed some of the games and sing-alongs and things at http://pbskids.org/ when they were pretty young. At 15 mos you really still have to be there to help them out with most things, though -- mine would end up clicking on the ALT keys or something and getting stuck. The Sesame Street website (http://www.sesamestreet.org/) has even more games, including some specifically for toddlers - Elmo's Peek-a-Boo and Elmo's Fire Safety were big hits at our house. JP


I sometimes use google images with my son, who is 21 months. You can look up anything you want. We spend the majority of of our time looking at trains Sarah


My child at that age also loved looking at pictures of family. How about making a photo album especially for yours? At this age children need to interact with adults, play outside, climb, draw, build with blocks, be read to, sing, etc. Hands-on activities are how they learn. I can think of no reason why a 15 month old should be on a computer for any amount of time...let alone an hour. They have the rest of their lives to sit in front of a computer! Luddite


--jacksonpollock.org
--flickr.com (put in a keyword like ''kittens'' and get an endless slideshow - parental monitoring recommended of course)
--youtube (''Kitten in His Box'' and other funny stuff)
--favorite children's book authors often have their own websites, sometimes with activities and printable coloring sheets (yuyimorales.com, pilkey.com, rosemarywells.com)
--children's publishers have kid sites as well
--your local library should have links from its website (example: http://www.oaklandlibrary.org/links/kids/fun/kidfun.html) When your kid's a bit older (3?) the Fisher-Price kids digital camera is awesome. Marta


I'm sure you will get an earful about this, and I'm not sure I can avoid a similar incredulous tone in my answer. The short answer is no, I don't know of any good games or activities on the computer for pre-toddlers. At that age, we never thought to sit our son in front of the computer, and he showed little interest in it. Now he's three and we still don't encourage him to play games or engage in any computer activities aside from viewing photos, and for very brief periods of time. Mind you, we are both information technology professionals, so we aren't anti electronic media by any means, but we prefer to sit with books or play with games instead. LR


Simple software for 15-month-old

August 2005

He's 15 months, and loves, LOVES to bang on the keyboard and operate the mouse. But he has an uncanny ability to hit important control characters. We need some SIMPLE software that renders the computer safe for him to use. Best would be basic typing software -- press a key, see the letter on screen. Any pointers? Bryce


When my boys were about one, I introduced them to computers with the Disney ''Winnie the Pooh - Baby'' cd-rom. Your little one bangs on the keyboard and the characters react. For instance, pooh dips his hand in various honeypots to find surprises. Or Tigger hides then appears from behind something. Your child can hit any key or series of keys (i.e. banging on the keyboard). It wasn't ''real time'' (at least on my computer), but the boys enjoyed it and felt they were doing something. I think it helps that the characters praise your child when they hit the keys. Montclair Mama


Not a software recommendation, but a website: http://www.sesameworkshop.org/sesamestreet/

My son has loved these games from the time he was a year until now (3 years old)... there are simpler ones, where any key tickles elmo, or makes elmo hop out from behind a dresser, or alphabet games in which your child presses a letter and an object that starts with that letter appears. And there are more advanced ones about counting, drawing, spanish, etc. Lots and lots of games! anon


If you have a Mac, you can download a program called ''Baby Banger'' for free. I think you could search for it online. It makes sounds and has fun, colorful shapes come on the screen when the keyboard is used. It's a Mac only program though. We also have a spare keyboard around that's not hooked up to anything, and my son loves playing around with it. Mom of a Baby Banger


Fun/educational computer game for 1-year-old?

Feb 2004

Can anyone recommend a fun/educational computer game for one year olds? My son loves to type on the keyboard and I have seen ''software for ''babies'' in stores. It's hard to choose - and hard to figure out if it's worth it. If you know of any worthwhile specific titles thanks for the advice. anon


My son started with Reader Rabbit for Baby & Toddler, by The Learning Company. He loved it and so did we. He actually still loves it and he is almost 4 and has other software, but keeps coming back to play the familiar games he loves. kjmanuel


My son really likes the games and stories on Nickjr.com and they are free, yea. They teach mouse skills, creativity, colors, counting, music concepts and more. The quality and educational content is really quite good. There are no ads on the kids site but parents have to go through ads to get to the kids page. A friend of mine likes Noggin's site, too. Check these sites out. Maybe you won't need to spend any money. Kristin


Computer games for toddlers?

Feb 2003

I'd like my son to learn to navigate the computer, and have wondered if there are good quality, educational games or what- have-you that are good for a 2-3 year old. I'm leery to get into this, as I don't want to encourage him to be glued to the thing. But I don't want to have my head in the sand either. What have people liked/disliked for their same-age kids? (And how have you learned about such resources?) Jenny


Check out www.superkids.com for detailed ratings. Helena


There are a lot of games on the children's programs websites that are educational and fun. My 28 month old loves to play and I think they have more benefit than TV because they are interactive. We go to sesameworkshop.com, thewiggles.com, nickjr.com, and noggin.com. They all have many, many games to play, especially Sesame Street. Most of the games have to do with spelling, numbers and color identification. My daughter is especially fond of the Blue's Clues scavenger hunt with Joe. We have DSL so that might be more helpful than a dial up connection. - Rachael


I don't see any reason to introduce a 2 or 3 year old to computers. I think they learn much more from playing with real objects, fantasy and role-playing, and picture books. We enthusiastically introduced child #1 to computers at an early age (maybe at about 4) and were proud of how quickly he picked up things like matching skills on the computer. By age 9, however, he had a serious addiction problem to the computer that we have been struggling with ever since. He is so good at using programs that he can circumvent any ''educational'' program to quickly gather all the ''prizes'' without ever gaining the knowledge that is supposed to go along with it. Watching this evolve, we were much less eager to introduce the next two kids to computers. Now that they are in their teens, they like computers, at times more than most other activities, but neither one has the addictive focus of child #1. I recommend holding off on computer games or educational programs until at least 4 and I don't see any harm in waiting much longer. It's true that my kids only became skilled at keyboarding after they began playing games seriously (middle school age), but preschoolers and even early elementary school children don't need those skills. From spending little time on the computer in their younger years, I think my younger two children learned to develop and research their own interests (drama, writing, fishing,iceskating). In contrast, their older brother has neither the ''time'' nor energy for much other than the computer screen. anonymous


Our daughter loves the Living Books put out by Broderbund (sp?). We have The Cat in the Hat, Grandma and Me, Green Eggs and Ham, and Dr Seuss' ABC's. As the series title suggests, these are basically animated versions of the print books. At each page, the text is read by one of the characters in the book, and the scene plays out. If you are in the ''Play'' mode, you can then click on objects within the scene, and fun things happen. The Green Eggs and Ham CD-ROM also has a couple of embedded games, one about color matching, and another about putting together small words to make sentences. Our daughter is two now, and has been doing the living books (with our help) for almost a year now. She requests specific ones, and loves doing them with us. At some point, she will have the motor control to do our track ball (I think she might handle a mouse better), and will be able to do the clicking on her own (but she likes the social aspect of doing things with mommy and daddy, too).

And for the record, we also own all of these books, and she enjoys ''regular'' reading of them, too. In fact, she became more interested in reading Green Eggs and Ham after doing the CD-ROM. There are other Living Books titles out there, but I'm not sure which ones are also good. Much would depend on the books on which they are based, I suppose. My parents bought the CD-ROMs for my daughter on Amazon.com.

Good Luck! Donna


Try using a web-site instead. PBSKIDS.ORG is a good one. There are lots of games to play and they are age appropriate. I have heard that Golden Books also has games on their web site, although I have not used it. Mary


My kids have both enjoyed the Reader Rabbit series by The Learning Company. I originally bought Reader Rabbit Toddler for my now 3.5 year old when she was almost 2. She really enjoyed it, but has since moved on to LEGO Preschool and (CTW) Elmo's Art Workshop. Now my 21 month old loves using the Reader Rabbit program and her older sister likes teaching her how to use it. I learned about these programs from Child magazine, which has a section each month about age appropriate computer stuff. You can check them out online at http://www.child.com if interested.. Kelly


Most of what I have read on this subject would indicate that it's probably best to delay introducing a toddler to computers. Their hands aren't ready to learn either the keyboard or the mouse (they can pick up some really bad habits that will be hard to break later, in their efforts to cope), staring at the screen isn't really good for their eyes (or for ours either!), and they are better off having their hands on ''real'' stuff. They will pick up everything they need to about computers if introduced later (e.g. Kindergarten). Karen


Our two-year-old really enjoys the computer. Although he does want it too much when he has a new program, in general it is something that he is happy to do for about 15 minutes before he's on to something else. We started with Berchet's Baby Keyboard. You strap the keyboad on top of the regular one and it gives the child a few simple big, colorful buttons to push. It comes with three CDs that have progressively more difficult games. It is a clever system and he has really enjoyed it, plus I feel sure he learned colors because of the color-coded keys that correspond to simple characters on the screen. This they do without any mouse. Later we got Reader Rabbit Toddler, which is excellent, but mostly mouse-based. Once we slowed our mouse way down, he got this skill in about a week. Kim