Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My Son, My iPhone, My Problem...

My son, who will be four in late January, has gotten quite competent with my iPhone.

How competent ? He refers to You Tube as 'My You Tube' - fortunately, he can't spell and is using results from a search I put together of Thomas the Tank Engine clips. He can pick the phone up, unlock it, locate any application that he wants from my three screen of apps, and navigate within the apps.

I created this monster, of course. I set myself up to have my iPhone turn into a high-tech pacifier by purchasing the first season of Thomas from iTunes and syncing them to my iPhone. Bad parent. Then I started handing him the iPhone. That lead to exploration, discovery of other apps, most unfortunately You Tube. I'm not a big You Tube fan, mostly because of the production values. His favourite You Tube clips are people who've set up Thomas tracks in their home and filmed toy Thomases cruising around toy tracks. That's not so bad. The audio, however, is almost always too loud and the only way Ian wants to watch or listen to anything on the iPhone is maximum volume. The resulting din is- unfortunate.

On one hand, his ability with the iPhone is encouraging. I see his intelligence and his exploratory nature in the way he adapts to new applications. I recently purchased iBowl- I'm not a bowler, but I was interested in games that use the iPhone's motion sensor and I figured it was something he and I could both play. He's not ready for Zombie in more ways than one....

This morning, while I was packing his lunch, he was bowling. He's bowled up to a 132. That's pretty good. He's three after all. But then he called me back into the living room because he wanted to know what colour ball I wanted. Think about that. Customize is the 6th of seven menus in the app and he found it and figured out how to make his ball purple and mine orange.

That's impressive.

The problem is, the iPhone is a powerful tool. I have WinAdmin installed on the phone, but I can't set up favourite servers on it, because he might pick up that iPhone and start pressing buttons. It also has my primary personal mail account set up on it. That important email ? I might never see it. It's also a phone- and Monday night, when he was getting tired and picked up the phone and was insisting on using it as a phone, I had to take it away. The last thing I need is to have someone come knock on my door wondering why I was calling Somali pirates on my iPhone or some other disaster. They've taught the children about 911 in daycare, after all.

When he's shooting a photo essay (blurry headshots, feet, a tail, the edge of the couch) it's cute. And kudos to Apple for creating a device that is at once hyper-complex and easy enough for a three year old to use.

It's also a dangerous tool in his hands sometimes. This is why I have a personal iPhone and a work iPhone.

But some day, I'm going let him pick up my iPhone, and he's going to burn me. And it will probably be pretty damn cute, except for me...

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