Smart phone, stupid choices

“Gunna be at West Hall,” a Lanier Technical College texted, trying to tell a friend he was going to West Hall High School in Hall County, Georgia. But the smart phone’s auto-correct feature changed the message to “Gunman to be at West Hall.”

Then the student misdialed, sending the message to a stranger. That person called 911. The college and the high school were locked down for two hours till police determined the texter was armed only with his phone.

 

iPhones for toddlers

Mommy’s iPhone is now the favorite toy of many toddlers, reports the New York Times.

Many iPhone apps on the market are aimed directly at preschoolers, many of them labeled “educational,” such as Toddler Teasers: Shapes, which asks the child to tap a circle or square or triangle; and Pocket Zoo, which streams live video of animals at zoos around the world. There are “flash cards” aimed at teaching children to read and spell, and a “Wheels on the Bus” app that sings the popular song in multiple languages. Then there’s the new iGo Potty app (sponsored by Kimberly-Clark, maker of Huggies training pants), with automated phone calls reminding toddlers that it’s time to “go.”

Child development specialists disapprove.

Preschoolers need to move and manipulate objects, not touch a screen, said Jane M. Healy, an educational psychologist in Colorado. “Here’s the parent busily doing something and the kid is playing with the electronic device. Where is the language? There is none.”

Tovah P. Klein, the director of Columbia University’s Barnard College Center for Toddler Development (where signs forbid the use of cellphones and other wireless devices) worries that fixation on the iPhone screen every time a child is out and about with parents will limit the child’s ability to experience the wider world. “Children at this age are so curious and they’re observing everything,” she said. “If you’re engrossed in this screen you’re not seeing or observing or taking it in.”

Debate on the iPhone-as-toy issue is fierce on the mommy blogs, reports the Times.

I got a smart phone (Droid X) not long ago. On my last trip, I used to check e-mail and browse the web, including approving blog comments, while on the go. It is somewhat addictive.