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Science Technology and Environment

Some Parents Use Mobile Apps To Catch A Break From Kids


We wanted to know how NPR listeners use apps with their kids. Is it mostly you on your screen and them on theirs or have you made it a bonding event? Your answers fell loosely into three camps.


Some of you said you think letting kids play with apps is a way to take a break for yourself - fold the laundry, take a shower, get some peace and quiet.

Amanda Lower of Iowa City says she sometimes gets dirty looks from other parents while her 8-year-old son is playing on his iPad at a restaurant. But she says the technology helped them survive his first airplane ride.

AMANDA LOWER: I think that there are some apps out there that are not so great, so it's really kind of a sorting process trying to figure out what's helpful and educational.

MCEVERS: And she says it is a parent's job to figure that out.

CORNISH: So that's camp one. Camp two is best exemplified by this dad.

DANIEL CRAWFORD: My name is Daniel Crawford, and I live in Grand Rapids, Mich.

CORNISH: Crawford uses apps with his young children all the time, as in his toddler owns a tablet.

CRAWFORD: You know, there was some worry at first, you know, with our kids being way too into apps especially at a very young age, my son only being about 1. He knows how to push the button to wake up the phone. He knows how to swipe through. He knows how to find the apps that he wants to use.

But ultimately, we were really excited about the idea the access of educational tools and knowledge that he had that maybe we never had as kids.

MCEVERS: Then there are those special cases where apps are much more than entertainment or education. Heather May of Plainview, Neb., has a 3-year-old son with autism. He didn't talk for a long time, but she says, apps have helped him communicate, learn and develop as a person.

HEATHER MAY: Some apps - he pushes a button, and it'll tell us what he wants. Like, if he wants a cup it'll show us a cup or it'll show us a sign for a cup, which he eventually did learn how to use. He uses my iPhone. He uses his Kindle. They are making a lot more apps that are just designed for kids with autism. They keep their focus a lot better.

MCEVERS: May says they really like "Sesame Street" videos that help her son talk about his feelings, his likes and dislikes.

MAY: I wouldn't know that my son likes dinosaurs or that he likes Elmo so much or that he likes trains.

CORNISH: You can read more about how technology influences our lives at the All Tech Considered blog on npr.org.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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