Megan Fox: No cell phones & tablets, ‘it interferes with the brain development’


Back in 2014, Megan Fox announced in an interview that she’s a firm believer in not wanting her sons to be introduced to modern technology during their childhoods. Megan said that she lets Bodhi and Noah watch movies but not TV, and that “my goal is no computers, no cell phones until at least 8th grade.” A lot of people rolled their eyes at her for that one, but Megan stuck with it. This week, Megan did a red carpet interview with Entertainment Tonight and she basically said that she’s sending her sons to something like a Waldorf school so they won’t use computers until they’re 16 (and then they’ll just go berserk, I’m assuming).

Megan says:

“My kids in particular, I’m enrolling them in a school where technology is not allowed until they’re much older and computers are introduced because they will need that eventually to function in the real world. But as children, they shouldn’t be around it at all in my opinion. My kids won’t have cell phones or tablets, or any of that. It interferes with the brain development. I’m very big into this, I’m very passionate about it.”

The thing is, I understand this. I’m old enough where I can say that my childhood was spent without the onslaught of cell phones, smartphones, iPads, tablets, etc. My childhood was also pre-social media. And I genuinely think that my childhood was probably better than most kids’ childhoods today. There is something to be said for giving kids the space to use their imaginations, to not have wall-to-wall visual stimulation via technology, and all of that. Of course, this reminds me of the “I will never feed my children sugar” diet debates – the kids will have friends, they’re go over to someone’s house, they’ll be exposed to all of this stuff well before their mom approves. Just because mom has a no sugar/no tablet rule, doesn’t mean that your six-year-old won’t be gorging on mini-Snickers while playing video games somewhere.

Also, Megan said: “Something like Jennifer’s Body I’m not going to let them see for a long time. Something like Jonah Hex I’m not going to let them see ever. No one should see that movie.” SELF BURN! I’ve never seen Jonah Hex, despite the fact that Michael Fassbender is in it, and I do remember that people were like, “Ugh, this movie is so bad.” Still, I hate when actors are like “don’t ever watch my movie, you guys.”

Note by CB: Studies on the effect of technology on child development show mixed results, with both costs and benefits. My son, at 11, has learned advanced science, math and countless facts and history on his own over the Internet. I would argue that there’s no question that technology is an educational asset as long as it’s used with supervision and content filters. It comes down to a family’s choice on how to handle it though.

Photos courtesy of Getty, Fame/Flynet.

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101 Responses to “Megan Fox: No cell phones & tablets, ‘it interferes with the brain development’”

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  1. Jaded says:

    Apparently you must have been exposed to too much technology when you were young then….

  2. ell says:

    ‘My son, at 11, has learned advanced science, math and countless facts and history on his own over the Internet. I would argue that there’s no question that technology is an educational asset as long as it’s used with supervision and content filters.’

    this. i mean, surely should be up to the parents to make sure these tools are used in the best and most educational way, rather than deprive children entirely of something that it’s very much part of the world nowadays? tbh i think it’s a bit hypocritical, if you stop your children from using technology and tv,then you as a parent should also stop, otherwise it’s just a double standard, and sooner or later children will question you over it. you have to lead by example.

    also, there are tons of jobs that require technology, and i’d imagine that by the time megan’s kids will be old enough to get a job it will be even more of a requirement. what if they want to be the next wozniak?

    • JenYfromTheBlok says:

      My 10yr old son has been in Waldorf his entire life and has below average test scores in every subject- though he has never shown any sign of a learning disability. I am struggling to get him to a public school; his father is deeply ensconced in the philosophy of the WaldorfCult. When I was an idealist mother of a 3yr old, I signed to have our son in Waldorf up until 8th grade in our divorce. HOwever, it’s done our son an immense hopefully not irreversible damage to be in a school that limits technology in favor of “spiritual development”. As I’ve uncorked my head out out my idealist arse, I realize that limited technology is a fabulous tool for intellectual development. When a school system is black and white- beware!

    • Christina says:

      You don’t become the next Jobs or Wozniak by using devices…you become them by understanding how they work.

    • Christina says:

      You don’t become the next Gates, Jobs or Wozniak by using devices…you become them by understanding how they work. That is the Montessori and Waldorf way of learning about technology when they can understand the technology of what they are looking at. The TV was invented to subdue the masses….and people willing give that to their children when they don’t understand it themselves.

  3. Iamthatis says:

    So my 20 month old that can work an iPad flawlessly is not okay? Too much screen time, perhaps?
    Actually no shade for Megan. With my first, we didn’t even have a tv. Then, we got a tv with built in vhs player, started with just movies. Got her a portable did player to watch around the time my second was born. Have a tv now but no cable, Netflix and Amazon.
    My 5 year old got an iPad for homeschool use, but there were no fights and amazing sharing between her and my 3 year old son. So Santa got him an iPad too. Now the 20 month old steals my phone and goes to town. Thankful for life proof cases around here.
    All that being said, my children won’t sit and watch things for hours on end, and I wouldn’t call them digital babysitters. Learning apps and games, and Netflix kids. Can’t stand caiou or Barbie or monster high, or things like brats, but bring on my little pony.

    • Kitten says:

      Sounds like BALANCE, you know?
      Yours is the ideal approach to me, but I don’t have kids so what do I know.

    • iGotNothin says:

      I agree. I think that type of access is healthy and necessary today. When I was younger I didn’t have this type of access, but school curriculum was also completely different. We learned the basics and then increased our knowledge from there. Now all schools teach is how to take a standardized test.

      Technology reinforces the things that you are teaching your kids. Supervision and parental control is a must, but it opens kids up to a world of things that may have been forgotten in the 10, 20, or 30 years since parents were school age.

      • PinaColada says:

        In kindergarten, at least in my city (which is actually rural and I know maaaaany women with kids in school in various suburbs and cities for whom it is the same), there are computers, headsets, tablets, etc and they assign classroom websites and post homework to do online there. So “they” must feel it’s ok. Because of this, many parents feels that If your children aren’t at least vaguely familiar with technology when they enter school, many parents feel their children are already at a disadvantage. Just like coming in not knowing colors, letters, shapes etc

      • JenniferJustice says:

        PinaColada – I live in such a suburb/school district. My son is 12. He has Xbox and a smart phone. I regulate content and time spent on both. Much of his homework is done on the computer as assignments require internet research. His grades are posted on-line through a program with password settings, so he/we can view his grades at any given time. He looks at it frequently to see where he needs to step it up. The program also allows us to see every single assignments given, how he did on them, and things like test re-taking opportunities. We all utilize this program and appreciate it. In 7th grade, the students get tablets to do much of their homework on. They look forward to this monumental milestone.

        I feel my son needs to be tech savvy now so he can keep up with his generation’s ways of doing things now and as they get older. My husband and my son and friends take part in a baseball thing similar to Fantasy Football and they enjoy that. My husband works a lot of hours, and the phone allows my boy to text his dad whenever he wants and Dad texts back. When my husband took our son to the Cotton Bowl, my son took tons of pictures on their drive cross-country, and created slide shows of all the historical sites they visited along the way.

        Last, I also see his phone as a homing device/locator should he ever get in trouble. I downloaded a GPS Ap that I can tap into from my phone to see where he’s at at any given time. The ap has a feature where he can just hit a button to send a signal to the police department/911 if he’s ever in trouble that shows the police where he’s at. Haven’t had to use it, but love it for the reassurance it gives me just knowing it’s there.

    • says:

      Actually no, your 20 months old working an iPad flawlessly is not okay. It is a fact that until they’re 3, screens (tv, tablet, smartphone) are detrimental to brain development and infare with the way they should learn to see things and to draw links and relationships between events.
      After that ? My geeky – computer science teacher side says children are fair game… with age appropriate amount of time, age appropriate game, image, video,…
      In fact, digital literacy will be a need to have for them, so wait until 3. Do not wait until 16.

  4. V4Real says:

    Well it’s her choice. But like Kaiser I grew up during the age of no computers or social media. We actually socialized face to face, over the phone or wrote letters to friends who were far away. But modern technology does come with great value; you just have to teach your kids how to balance it. My son has been using a computer since he was three and can navigate it very well. Even when he’s playing video games and all this coding crap that I don’t fully understand.

    On a different note. I still think Megan Fox would have been a good Wonder Woman if she was about 2 or 3 inches taller. She has that look.

    • Artemis says:

      you just have to teach your kids how to balance it.

      True in theory. The ‘you’ you refer to here means an adult and society is littered with adults (parents or not) who text and drive, meet up with friends yet not look up from their screen (the amount of people, young and old, I have watching TV or showing each other stuff on Facebook during a meal in public is staggering), text while walking, play games in any spare moment etc etc is ubiquitous now. And kids see this behavior every day and copy it, especially when they already get their own devices from age 3 (why???). If adults learnt how to deal with technology in a balanced way first, then kids actually would have a chance.

      It’s so easy to say whatever you want online but we don’t know what goes on in households and when so many ‘responsible adults’ claim to be at work while browsing on Facebook, Twitter and blogs like this, I’m sorry I cannot see them all of a sudden become detached from technology once in the home just to teach their kids. When making a living is not enough to peel away from mindless social media content, then what is?

      Also, just like TV, modern technology can be used to distract kids and keep them away from parents who are either too busy or too drained from spending time with them. I’ve seen this in my own family: my cousin locked himself up in the kitchen (children’s fence) and the kids were in the living room watching TV hours on end watching cartoons or playing with the Xbox while he was on the TV.
      Or the people who can talk only via text but have nothing to say when meeting face-to-face.

      I grew up with a grandmother so limited TV and no phones and game consoles but she didn’t do all of those things either. Now I have a balance but sometimes it’s a struggle when I’m bored, it’s so easy to turn to technology but it won’t really help you in your life if it’s not purposeful.

      • V4Real says:

        I don’t disagree with you and I am learning to practice what I preach. I want my son to be a well rounded kid. Of course I want him to be computer literate but I also want him to pick up a book. The way I find that balance is making him put down the IPod and move away from the computer and video games . He’s involved in sports, basketball, baseball and bowling. He is also taking piano lessons twice a week. He has also started playing board games again with family and friends. He knows he’s not allowed to touch that IPod until homework is done and he has read from an actual book, not his Kindle. I no longer download books on Kindle because on the low he would tap over to his apps and play games. During the summer he’s in camp and they spend most of the day outside; gaming devices are not allowed.

        As for me my weakness is my phone. I haven’t turned on my PC at home in months because my day job involves being on the computer for most of the day. The last thing I want to do is log on to a computer when I’m home. But today it’s so easy to just grab your phone and do the things that you would normally do on a computer for fun or downtime. I rarely use my phone for casual conversation or texting because I have never been a phone person. My close friends and I may talk once or twice a month and text every now and then to see when we are going to meet up or plan a vacation or something together. If I want a peek as to what they have been up to I go on FB. But I can tell you I probably spend more time on C/B then I do FB. I’m not that into social media and rarely post things on my FB page. I have an IG account but I only post pics of my dog and cat.

  5. Kitten says:

    Seems really extreme to me but her kids, her choice.
    I can think of worse things than technology to deprive your kids of.

    • Erinn says:

      I think it’s kind of dumb, but we’ll see what she’s saying in another couple of years.

      We got a computer with windows 98 – well around 1998, maybe just a bit later. I didn’t have much interest in it until I was about 11/12 – by then I had jumped into editing and some basic HTML coding. I’m now a web designer/developer.

      On the other hand, I remember my SIL and MIL complaining that in high school my SIL was expected to write some kind of paper and format properly with word/whatever the issue was. She was resistant to using technology outside of the odd kids computer game growing up – and they couldn’t comprehend how a teacher would expect them to know how to do that. Well guess what – 99% of your peers knew how to do those things years ago.

      People aren’t going to hand hold your kid and catch them up on how to use common pieces of technology because you’re bound and determined to keep them from using it. There’s a balance needed.

      I think as long as you know what your kids are getting into, that you do need to encourage technology use. Limit it, sure. But encourage them to try new programs, and learn cool tricks. The worlds not suddenly going to use it less – it’s only going to get more advanced. As long as your kids are active kids, who still are doing kid things – there’s no harm in becoming competent with technology young. I sat this weekend playing with my niece who is 8months now, and who is determined to use my cellphone. She’ll pick it up, and if I turn the camera on, she’ll look at herself and giggle. I showed her a video of my dog running, and she got so excited. Short little bursts of technology are fine.

      Now – they ARE finding babies aren’t hitting milestones when it comes to facial cues and things like that because their dumbass parents are sitting around on farmville or candy crush all day instead of interacting with them -but that’s a whole different issue.

  6. Sam says:

    Have you seen kids these days? I agree with her 100%. They’re all glued to their cell phones/computers. I wouldn’t even compare it to the no sugar diet because this has more to do with how her children will grow up mentally. They’ll be much better for it.

    • Naya says:

      I agree. Its always astounding to read interviews from novelists and script writers because the vast majority say they werent exposed to TV in their early years. Their creativity is better for it. I genuinely cant think what a child of 7 could not learn out of a book rather than the internet.

      • chelsea says:

        What all their peers are learning? The whole idea of “protecting them” from learning skills everyone in their age group possesses is insane.

      • Patricia says:

        Why do so many commenters here seem to think it’s so difficult to use iPads/iPhones that children should start learning about it early?
        I bought my first iPad a few years ago, at 35, had no iPhone, no Apple computer (but Windows) before and it took me about half an hour to understand how to do the most important things with it.

      • tiny marian says:

        @Patricia: My sentiments exactly!

        I’ll never understand why parents worry that their kids are going to be “left behind” technologically if they aren’t exposed to all the latest devices right away. Today’s common-use tech is insanely user friendly, which is exactly why so many pre-schoolers can pick it up so quickly. It’s not as if the majority of users are techno wizards, lol! The fact is that the companies that design all of these devices and software/apps want as many people as possible to be dependent on them, so they make it all as simple as possible to use. In other words, any moron can operate an iPhone or pad with just a few simple instructions……..that’s why so many people have one or the other or both!

        Not only this, but with the rate that technology changes, everything that these young kids are doing today will likely be obsolete by the time they are adults anyway, so they’ll just have to re-learn everything then. Just like with my generation, lol!

      • BabyJane says:

        Same reason they think their kids will get left behind in soccer, Spanish, or dance. So parents eliminate weekend playtime and replace it with practice and lessons. (There’s certainly a social and developmental merit to all of these activities- just saying it follows similar logic to that of technology exposure.)

    • Alex says:

      It disgusts me – I see two year olds being pushed in strollers with their eyes affixed firmly on the tablet/iPad right in their face. They have no awareness of the outside world – they’re zombies.
      I see kids on planes who can only be calmed down when mum or dad shoves a phone or tablet in their face. It’s horrific to think of the attention span these kids will grow up with.

      And then parents whinge that parenting is sooo hard and they do it to give themselves some down time that they rightfully deserve and DON’T JUDGE ME… like, what? Parents have been parenting for hundreds of thousands of years – the kids aren’t getting worse – you’re getting worse at discipline and teaching and being in charge. If you only ever train your child to calm themselves by using electronic stimulation, that’s the only thing that will ever work and their brains will turn to mush.

      Yes, technology is a wonderful tool for teaching but not really for young children – there isn’t anything on there that they couldn’t naturally develop by playing, observing, being read to normally. And these little kids watching teletubbies or playing candy crush aren’t learning sh*t. Stop kidding yourself!

      • Bridget says:

        That’s pretty damn judgemental of you.

        Just going to point out, people have been parenting for thousands of years, but they also employed an awful lot of practices that we no longer use – child labor, corporal punishment, etc.

      • JenniferJustice says:

        It’s all about moderation. And I do not see toddlers addicted to electronic stimuli. I see toddlers who know how to us tablets and find games on phones, but that isn’t their only stimuli. In fact, I think for the ones I know, it’s helped them with their ABC’s and numbers, and comprehension. Most schools still require reading time on their own outside of school and are tested via book reports. I only know a few kids who use readers or Kindles. The vast majority of school kids prefer hard copy books. And just because a kid plays with a tablet in the car of when being strolled around, doesn’t mean they have no awareness of the natural world. That’s a bit of a stretch.

      • Wiffie says:

        @alex Don’t have kids, do ya?

        You also have no idea if that is the only twenty minutes that kid gets a week. Unless you follow that parent and kids home and watch them every hour of the day, you have no idea if that “zombie kid” is missing the outside world.

        And come on, you would be the FIRST to complain about my screaming toddler that was bored on a plane. Don’t pretend you would prefer that to me rotting their brain for two hours so I don’t have a complete panic attack on that flight. Might be the only two hours my kid gets that week, but you think I’m destroying a generation. Ok. Keep judging something you know NOTHING about.

    • Erica_V says:

      I went to dinner the other night , next to us was a table of 4 girls all on their phones. For almost the entire time we were there. They only made noise when one showed one of the others something on the phone and then they’d laugh and go back to ignoring each other. It was SO weird and almost sad.

  7. Anon says:

    I sort of get this, but think she might be taking it too far. TV has changed so much since I was a kid. I’m 28 and I’ve noticed (and I think I actually read a study showing this was true too… damned if I remember where though) that even commercials are much more fast paced and can be overly stimulating to brains that are not fully developed. I also read this interview with her on dailymail and she specifically mentioned that she KNOWS its going to be extra work for her as a parent, but didn’t seem to be shading parents who disagree or haven’t made the same choice which I thought was nice.

    Carry on and good luck, Megan! None of us really know what the hell were doing in parenting land. We’re doing the best we can with whatever we have and hoping they come out okay LOL

    • Anon says:

      Also, personally, I’m less worried about brain development being harmed by tv and tablets than I am about eyesight and screen time. Tablets and phones are definitely a culprit there. Not to say you’ll go blind, but screens generally make your eyes work harder than a normal paper and text would.

    • KB says:

      But is she going to have no cell phones, tablets, computers? Because the kids will just use hers. And she’s separated from their dad, is he also going to have no cell phone, tablets, and computers?

      • Anon says:

        The interview made it sound like they already don’t have tv or tablets (but who knows if thats true.) I know plenty of parents who are able to keep their phones away from their kids. Is it hard? Yes. It takes work, but she admits that. Also, if they’re just borrowing your phone, that still is cutting the amount of time they spend with their face shoved into a screen by more than half.

        I personally plan to raise my kids with more balance than this, but I won’t criticize her choices as a mother.

  8. Dani says:

    I hate the too much screen time debate. Some kids wouldn’t know how to speak if it weren’t for help from the big bad interwebz. My daughter is 2.5 and because of all these nick jr and abc mouse apps, she can count to 10 in THREE LANGUAGES, knows her abcs fully and in another language, and knows all her colors and her shapes. And guess what, after 25 minutes, she gets sick of it. She also gets to run around outside and scrape her knees and fight with other toddlers. It’s not do or die.

    • thaisajs says:

      Mine, too. My daughter is 3 and she’s learned a lot from shows on Nickelodeon like Team Umizoomi (counting, patterns) and Blake and the Monster Machine (an awful monster truck show that still manages to teach kids about stuff like acceleration).

      To each mom her own. If Megan wants to keep her kids electronics-free more power to her. I think that’s a tough lift for a lot of moms who don’t have nannies or who work full-time.

      • Dani says:

        Omg Blaze. I can’t stand that show but she LOVES it. I also really cannot stand Wally Kazam but it’s so beneficial because of all the different words they teach you to sound out every episode.

        I definitely agree to each their own, but there’s no reason for her to be holier than thou about it. We don’t all have the means or time to occupy our children 24/7 without resulting to some screen time.

    • Artemis says:

      Loads of kids are multilingual due to having parents and friends speaking to them. I was speaking 3 languages (French, Dutch and English) because my mother knew a lot of African people who would visit our house.

      My cousins kid could also count and say some stuff in Spanish and English due to cartoons between 3-5 but if they don’t move on to other age-appropriate TV when they grow up, then they’ll just forget it anyway which happened to her as she is 9 now and when I speak English to her she cannot understand. I know another kid with a French speaking mother, perfect bilingual.

      You don’t need technology, it can help but it’s not necessary. Just expanding your wold and interacting with real people can teach anybody a new language. Immersion is the quickest way for learning languages (fluent speaking in about 6-10 months). I’m going to France to volunteer for a year as I forgot a lot of French… rather that than sit in front of a TV or PC to be honest. And I can also run around and play after work is done :)

    • SloaneY says:

      This. As with anything, there are pros and cons and you must have balance. My kid didn’t watch tv or do iPads until he was 2-3. He watches age appropriate tv and movies, does some age appropriate video games and educational apps. After a while, he gets bored and wants to play (non- technology). I’m mid to late thirties and while we didn’t have iPads or the Internet, we still had tape decks (I always had headphones on), computer games, video games, and I watched quite a bit of tv. I also played in the neighborhood a lot. I turned out ok. Even with archaic technology.

    • Alex says:

      Why can’t you teach your daughter those things? A baby/toddler isn’t out for themselves to learn everything about the world.
      They have parents for a reason.

      • BabyJane says:

        Alex you seem contrary just for the sake of it. These parents are utilizing resources. Would you have objected to the printing press resulting in cheaper, more ubiquitous learning materials in the form of books? Would you have insisted parents use hand signals and chisel and tablet, despite these new available resources assisting in the streamlining and disseminating of knowledge, practice, and application? Tech tools are the new resources. Use them. A new opportunity for a different kind of learning is now presented, and it’s what I focus on in my Social Studies courses: deciphering legitimate sources, distinguishing facts from opinion, using the technology to create something new, and so on. It’s not as passive a tool as you seem to think!

  9. Bridget says:

    Megan Fox, noted child development expert. Technology itself doesn’t hinder brain development, and there are a ton of ways technology can assist in learning and development. Obviously there are people that go overboard, but that’s the responsibility of the parent. It’s great that this works for Megan, but it’s technology isn’t the devil.

    • Artemis says:

      What she says is actually supported by scientific research. I posted links up thread. Educating yourself first is important before we think we know what’s best for the younger generation. And so many adults lose jobs because they are not productive or focused due to accessing technology or ranting while at work about their boss on FB. Adults are not that good with tech as they think they are so why expect kids to be able to deal…

      • Bridget says:

        It’s not so cut and dried as “no screen time” because studies have been finding that not all screen time is equal. There’s a difference between sitting and watching SpongeBob and using one of the zillion educational apps. Not to mention, as someone posted below one of the biggest issues isn’t the screens themselves so much as the opportunity cost – the time on the screen can take the place of time spent outside or with peers. It isn’t the screen itself, so much as what they’re missing out on is key to their development. Outdoor play is integral to sensory development in children.

  10. JenB says:

    I am thankful every day that I did not come of age in the world of FB and social media. It can be negative as an adult but I am so glad I didn’t have that additional drama at 16. Seriously it would have been the last thing I needed at that tumultuous emotional age.

    I respect her views on kids and technology. I personally believe in a balanced approach but it can be really easy to let your kids watch too much when you’re trying to get other things done. I try to be more aware. I watched a lot of cartoons growing up (Duck Tales, woo-hoo!) but for some reason I feel like iPads, tablets, etc. are a bit worse than watching TV. Something about staring at a small screen for too long worries me a little more. Not that too much TV isn’t a concern as well.

    • Wren says:

      I agree. Of course I don’t have children but seeing tiny kids glued to a screen seems wrong to somehow to me. We barely had TV when I was little and I had to entertain myself a lot, and I think I’m better for it. There’s balance, of course, and I don’t think all screen time is bad, but I hate the babysitter aspect of tablets and smartphones. It seems so mind numbing, especially at an age where kids should be exploring the world around them.

  11. Dhavynia says:

    I sort of agree with her, I have a 4yr old non verbal autistic boy and I was not happy when his father gave him his old iPad a year ago so I had him block everything and just leave a few apps that might benefit his speech and it has helped him. However, I do take it away when the first thing he does when he wakes up or comes home from school is run to my room to get it and play angry birds for long periods. If you don’t supervise them, they will spend their entire time watching TV or playing tech games. I hide it and he forgets

    • Bridget says:

      My son is ASD as well, and I have to say there are a ton of great apps out there (including for working on his speech). He’s in a special developmental preschool program (he’s 5) and they use the iPad for some things.

    • ohdear says:

      I think there is a huge difference between using technology as an assistive technology (AT) and as something to keep young kids occupied or learning through prescribed learning (as opposed to inquiry learning). I am a special education specialist and have an MEd in Assistive Technology and Universal Learning Environments, so I feel like I can speak to this a bit. AT has opened so many doors for exceptional learners.
      Using AT to assist communication, processing and organization is hugely beneficial for some learners, even at a young age. But as a learning tool for kids without exceptionalities, the conversation changes to how learning is developed and expressed.

  12. Tanya says:

    Apparently, it’s lack of exposure to the outdoors and not the screens themselves that cause bad eyesight.

    I work in tech, and my kids started getting screen time when they were 2. In my opinion, there’s nothing a child needs to get from screens that couldn’t be better obtained elsewhere, and it’s not the screens themselves but the opportunity cost that’s the issue. But we live imperfect lives, and a reasonable amount of screen time isn’t going to do any harm. Not every moment needs to be optimized.

    • Heather says:

      Yes, exactly. It’s the opportunity cost. If you kid plays with your tablet, then has a full day playing with other kids, building things with blocks or legos, running around in nature, there’s no harm. The real harm is not having those other things ever, regardless of whether there’s a tablet or phone involved. It’s the same problem kids in the 60s-00s have had with the TV.

    • ohdear says:

      I agree completely Tanya.

      What Megan is referencing is the neuroscience that describes the different type of learning that occurs when using technology as a tool. If the technology is the source of learning, the learning is not often effectively transferred as well to real world situations. For higher level learning to ‘stick’, there needs to be opportunity for meaningful application. That’s where experiences come in. Having a child play outside, come in with a question and use technology to inquire about that question is incredibly meaningful. Kids need to learn how to ask questions, explore, fail, redirect their thinking and try again with results that aren’t predetermined by a developer.
      I understand her position, and I totally understand parents/teachers introducing technology as a tool to deepen understanding or communicate learning and as a tool for communication when the time is right. Our school division has introduced technology far too early, and the students have suffered for it. I think it could wait until grade 3, after the foundations are firmly set. It’s a learning process for the education system too : )

    • ItHappenedOnNight says:

      Exactly this!! My 2 year old son just got introduced to the iPad with little age-appropriate books and mini-movies. He gets maybe 15 min per week (But even then, not regularly) bc to this point, we have avoided the screen in favor of play or outside time. I don’t think that offering him other alternatives will hinder his ability to integrate screens/computers into his life later on. It’s just not that hard to pick up. Will I avoid it till he’s 16? Goodness no, but he’s so happy with the “real world” and oblivious to the electronic alternatives, I want to ride that wave for as long as possible knowing full well that it will soon disappear. I love your reference to opportunity cost. That is exactly how I see it too!

  13. Nancy says:

    What is she Amish? I agree to a certain extent that there is less one on one communication because of the technologies available. But, it’s not the 90′s anymore. My son in the first grade had a fourth grade reading level. He had access to an Ipad at three and learned from it. But he also sat down and read books with me. Learning to use a computer in of itself is developing the brain. I’d rather my children learn from the technology available to them instead of plunking themselves in front of the television. There is a balance between technology and still going out and riding your bike. She’s freakish to me. Good luck to her boys.

  14. ladysussex says:

    As an educator, I actually agree with her. iPads (or tablets in general) have replaced TV and video games as babysitters, and it’s very hard for kids these days to learn anything that isn’t from a multi-media presentation. Children, during their free time, should be interacting with other human beings, not a tablet. They should be running and jumping and riding bicycles. I’m not exaggerating when I say that a large percentage of kids in school today don’t have the large motor skills to do things like monkey bars or climbing walls, because they sit around using a tablet all weekend. I’ve actually had parents tell me in conferences how proud they are of their kids that they are able to get to x level of angry birds, and use it as an example of a sign of their intelligence. Sigh.

    • Mltpsych says:

      We have our kids in a public Waldorf school and I was a little hesitant about the screen time issue but I do believe limiting screen time has had a positive effect on my kids. We do no screen time during the week and limit on the weekends. My kids play outside, sew, craft and read. I honestly think it is a good balance and they understand that as the parents we use screens for work and life. It has also been good for me to not be able to come home and turn on the television as I normally would. We wait until the kids are asleep and that has been good for me because I would love to zone out after work but I am forced to be more interactive with my family.

    • Sparkles says:

      Yes! Fellow educator here, with a an M.Ed. My students can’t even throw, catch or kick a ball anymore! Their aim and overall gross and fine motor skills have become progressively worse! I have a also noticed that more students than ever are having difficulty just GRASPING a pencil, because they have become so accustomed to video game joysticks. Ugh. And yes, it has become practically impossible to grab and maintain a child’s attention. Unless you’re animated, have sparkles shooting out of your ears and light up in different colors when you move, forget it.

      I agree that there should be a balance in the usage of technology. I cringe, however, when I see my students glued to their tablets because tablets seem to be replacing “hands-on” learning and parental involvement in a child’s learning. Children are “watching” a ball roll, instead of actually going out to roll a real ball.

    • BabyJane says:

      I’m curious as to what grades you all teach. Perhaps it works itself over time? I teach 9-12 grades in various courses and see very little of what you describe, and these kids did not know a world without internet and social media. They got their first cell phones at age 10. But they are being taught to use them as resources. They can throw and catch just fine… it’s I who struggles in that department…

  15. Murphy says:

    I get what she wants to do for her sons but won’t that mean they will be far behind their peers? Like it or not-their peers are being raised to use computers from a very young age and her sons will be a decade behind.

    • ohdear says:

      they might be behind in different skills related to technology and ahead in other skills, like communication, memory storage and retrieval, fine motor skills, prediction and reasoning.

    • Lisa says:

      lol, no. Kids are observant. My niece and nephew already know how to use a touchscreen and keyboard at 4, but they don’t have ipads or play with their parent’s phones. Unless they’re being raised in a technological bubble, which is impossible to do, they’ll pick it up somewhere.

    • Jwoolman says:

      I didn’t use a computer until I was in my twenties (and it wasn’t a graphical user interface back then). It certainly didn’t prevent me from learning everything I needed to learn about the computer as a tool.

      People tend to overestimate the value of the gadgets for children because they marvel at “how fast the kids learn the computer”. Well, duh. The kids have little experience with language so they can learn the limited vocabulary of a computer without linguistic interference. The first time through an educational game, a little kid might be learning something. After that, they tend to just mindlessly click on things to see the animations again and again. The best way for them to use a computer in the early years is the same way they do other things – with a parent who can question them and add to the experience, just as when reading a hardcopy book.

      And kids may pick up limited vocabularies in other languages quickly in cyberspace or realspace- because they don’t need many words yet and don’t have other things on their mind. The memories of those languages won’t stick unless reinforced and expanded as they grow older, but it impresses the heck out of the adults. Kids pick up languages fast but they forget them even faster.

      Basically – the kids have so much they need to learn to become fully functioning adults, and there are only 24 hours in a day. The whiz bang approach of prefab thinking typical of computer programs may impress their elders, but there are real questions concerning how useful that is for developing the ability to think independently. Playing with old-fashioned Legos (before they came with a prefab story attached) is more likely to be useful, and they need to do that as children. Severely limiting screen time makes a lot of sense for many reasons, ranging from the purely physical problems involved to the fact that something else not so whiz bang but more vital is likely to be pushed out by more screen time. There will be plenty of time to get chained to a computer at the wrist when they’re much older. They really won’t be handicapped by limited exposure during childhood.

  16. Mimz says:

    I don’t have kids but helped raise two and let me tell you, they are 16 now and they love tech, mostly cellphones but they only got them maybe a year or two ago. (before they had just the really really basic no-internet ones).
    I agree that technology nowadays if not monitored right is causing more harm than good in children, I saw some comments here that show that if properly handled it can be beneficial, but I think that even kids tv shows nowadays are overly sexed up.
    And seeing 2 year olds with cellphones and tablets creeps me out. Go play outside, do sports, and enjoy nature, look at people in the eyes. Thats what I hope I will teach my kids some day.

    I commend her for trying to stick to this, and even though her kids will still have access to those things when visiting friends and family, it makes a world of a difference when you know your boundaries from home. And people nowadays need to learn to love reading books again too.

    • Algernon says:

      At the very least, children need to know how to dial 911 on a touch screen phone. They make little simple Jitterbug-like phones specifically for kids, and a lot of my baby cousins and friends’ kids have them. That way, they can communicate with mom and dad, but there’s no internet capability or anything like that. That seems like a good compromise.

  17. Algernon says:

    Oh boy, Waldorf schools. I had no idea what these were until one started trying to move into my neighborhood and was met with strong opposition. Now my neighborhood is tearing itself apart over whether or not to allow a Waldorf school to move in. You think the presidential race is nasty? You should attend one of the neighborhood meetings about the Waldorf school.

    All my friends with kids have made different decisions for their families regarding the kids and the technology, but just from observing said kids, I think the ones who use tech a little bit are the best off. It’s like anything else: in moderation, it’s fine. I have one friend who’s on the strict no-tech line (she’s pro-Waldorf, and is not speaking to our anti-Waldorf friends anymore), and her kid is very sweet and creative, and noticeably less capable than his peers. He’s entering school age and all his peers can count, know the alphabet, read, do basic math, and a lot of that is stuff they’ve picked up from things like Leap Frog tablets and electronic games. This little boy cannot count, does not know the complete alphabet, and can’t read. After babysitting him a few times recently, I see why his mom is so hot for the Waldorf school. Her kid is going to get crucified in a regular school. He’s *way* behind.

    • Bridget says:

      Keep in mind, different children learn at different paces, and some kids simply aren’t ready for really learning to read etc until well into Kindergarten or 1st grade. Mine was like that, as are many of his peers – it’s only now midway in 1st grade that things really clicked and he’s taken off.

      • Algernon says:

        I get that kids learn to read at different times, and ever since I learned about differentiated instruction, I can’t believe all schools aren’t taught that way. I’m not too worried about this kid not reading yet, because he’s pretty bright and I’m sure it will click eventually. I am a little concerned that he can’t count and doesn’t know the alphabet. By 7, I kinda feel like that ought to be in place.

    • Mltpsych says:

      Studies also show that he should catch up to all the other kids by 4th grade and Waldorf schools create independent thinkers. That said once you are on trac this way it is very hard to change to a non-Waldorf school until after 4th grade. And I am not a fan of anything extreme so our family uses Waldorf in a balanced way. There are some crazy Waldorf extremists out there!

      • Algernon says:

        The problem, as I understand it, is that our states mandates standardized testing before the 4th grade (our public schools are an utter disaster), and parents are worried their kids will fail those tests because the Waldorf model doesn’t tend to work it itself out till later in childhood, as you say. In our state, even private schools can be penalized if students aren’t hitting the benchmarks, so there’s some concern over what happens if/when this new fancy school lands in hot water with the state because the students aren’t passing. That seems like a legitimate concern to me, although I also don’t think they should be testing until at least the fifth grade.

    • tmc says:

      but I believe that means he just has emphasized other things, skills, his creativity and will catch up but bring more to the table later on. It is a marathon not a sprint. thanks for sharing this experience.

    • ohdear says:

      I would say that she is probably parenting consistent with a Waldorf philosophy, which could be why he doesn’t know his numbers and can’t read. They believe in oral use of language until grade 4, then introduce written language.

      • Algernon says:

        That’s what I’ve learned since this brouhaha exploded in my neighborhood. That’s why everyone is worried about what happens if/when the Waldorf kids fail state testing because the philosophy is incompatible with the state testing standards.

        I don’t really care what she does with her kid, that’s her business and her problem, but the reason she’s so involved in the neighborhood drama is because there is, at present, no Waldorf elementary school for her son to go to. He did pre-K/kindergarten, but unless this school thing gets sorted asap, in the fall he’ll *have* to go to a public school, and he can’t read or do basic math. He’ll get slaughtered in the transition.

    • Jwoolman says:

      My mother taught me all those things when computers were still huge machines taking up whole large rooms… Really, if he doesn’t know numbers and letters etc., that’s because his parents haven’t taught him. He doesn’t need a computer or an electronic toy to be a surrogate parent. If his parents are that deficient in basic skills that they can’t teach him themselves – they need to send him to a preschool that will let him learn it from another human.

      If the school is telling them to not teach him basic skills- this is a replay of the “look-say” reading method disaster that left a trail of functional illiterates in its wake. (My generation was taught to read very quickly with phonetics, which actually does work even for English.) Parents teach their kids how to tie their shoes and how to hold a fork, no reason not to teach them basic skills like counting.

      But he also may simply have learning problems and need special attention to learn the basics. His parents may have tried but failed. If so, they need to get him some help.

      • Algernon says:

        He doesn’t have learning problems, though everyone assumes that because of the whole not reading/counting thing. I’m getting all this from his hippy-dippy mom, who may be misquoting, but it seems the Waldorf process doesn’t emphasize teaching things like reading until well into elementary school, and though I’ve met some parents who say they “cheated” and taught their kids by reading along with them at home, my friend is very into the whole thing and doesn’t even let her kid *try* to read. She won’t even read to him. She prefers they make up stories together. Which is cute, but again, this kid is probably going to end up in a public school for 1st grade and not be able to read. That is less cute.

        These neighborhood meetings about the new school turn into yelling matches where parents just start ripping each other apart over the methodology. I’m less concerned with that; I don’t have kids, it’s not my business what they’re doing with theirs. I’m just concerned about the potential impact of opening a school in the middle of what is currently a strictly residential area (parking, street/lane closures, etc).

  18. Heather says:

    She’s right, though. There are studies that show the flatness of objects on a phone or tablet don’t allow for children to develop spacial relations. Blocks, Lincoln Logs, Lego and Tinkertoy are where it’s at!

  19. K says:

    I think balance is important. I think learning technology in school is invaluable and should be taught in a serious way just like reading, math and history because whether people like it or not that is the world not its science and technology.

    That being said I think there is extreme value in not having it in the home. In saying that kids can’t have a cell phone, be on social media and are suppose to play outside not on screens. I think with on this tech you need imagination and to get that you need to take away screens and games. You need to have kids play with traditional toys and outside.

    So I don’t think it’s wise to take it completely away because I think it sets kids behind but I think balance is key.

  20. Lindy says:

    I’m a pretty laid-back parent in many respects, and definitely not a helicopter mom. I work full time and am divorced so there’s not a lot of wiggle room in my life or my schedule.

    I’m also pretty convinced that most moms are doing their damnedest and love their kids, so I’m a big believer that we need to stop the mommy wars because it’s freaking hard enough as it is and support makes it better for moms and kids.

    I’m with her on screen time. I’ve looked extensively at tons of research (I was for several years a professor so I was lucky to have access to journals and academic resources). My kid has pretty near zero screen time with me. We might go to a movie twice a year, and have a movie night at home (laptop) cuddled up together twice a year but that’s it. (He’s six).

    No tablets, no phones, no video games, no computer for him, no television at all. He does get that stuff on the occasional weekend with his dad, but most of his time is spent without it. And honestly, that’s one of the few parenting rules I made for myself that I never broke, and I’m glad. I have less time with him than I’d like because of work, and I love that the time we do have is spent interacting with each other, talking, hiking, riding bikes, reading, doing art projects. It’s the best decision I made for myself and my kiddo.

    TL;dr–no screen time has been the best parenting choice I made and my kid is happy and thriving.

    • ItHappenedOnNight says:

      Great point! My 2-year old is much the same way, and now that he attends school full time, I realize that I miss spending time with him and want to use my few hours a day with him interacting and playing with him. The iPad seems to take away from that. I’m fairly easy going too (I’m an older mom, and have mellowed in my old age) – except about screen time (and healthy meals, but he’s a good eater, so it’s not a struggle). Your point about enjoying the time you have together is true for me as well!

  21. HeyThere! says:

    My baby is 7 months old. I didn’t want toys that scream at him, so when gifted them, I don’t put the batteries in. He has so much fun with them still! I’m only trying to limit TV, iPhone, iPad, etc exposure until around 2 years old. Our tv is off all day, until the news at 18:00. Even then it’s on now volume. I don’t judge others who don’t do this, but boy do I get judged for going this route! Lol. So many people roll their eyes at me but I don’t care. I’m not a big Tv person. Then when he gets older, all in moderation. He won’t have his own iPad or cell phone for a loooong time. He will have to earn them! Stay out of trouble, good grades, be a considerate human, etc. When he does use our computer, it will have tons of blocked sights. Don’t get me started on youngsters watching porn!!! It’s very unhealthy to think that THIS is what sexual relationships are like. I honestly think that’s why rape culture has run crazy and nobody respects each other’s bodies. They parents don’t know, or don’t care(?) that they are watching the weird porn. Then, the prints aren’t talking to their children about sex and respecting bodies and that porn is just fake. Ugh.

  22. word says:

    I don’t see anything wrong with them using computers (with supervision). I do agree that kids don’t need cell phones. There is still a lot of research needed regarding the dangers of keeping cell phones on your body or near your head. Do you know how many teens sleep with their phones under their pillows? That can’t be good.

  23. Kat says:

    For kids at pre-school age it’s far more important to play, socialize etc than learn the alphabet or counting. Those skills can still be learned in school, while catching up on social and emotional development is much more difficult. There have been studies comparing different kinds of kindergartens, play focused vs. early science focused, which show that children from the play focused groups catch up quite quickly regarding reading etc once in school, while maintaining an advantage in well being and social skills over the kids in the science focused kindergartens.

  24. Portugal the Stan says:

    As a mother to a young child, I am honestly shocked by the amount of people that allow very young children to use tablets and apps. And, no, I don’t have a nanny and work full time. They will have plenty of time to be glued to an electronic device. Why start so early? I think it is creating an attachment to electronics that is unnecessary.

  25. mkyarwood says:

    We stick to the ‘no tech’ rule til about age 4/5, although both kids have used digital cameras and the phone camera. My nephew is hideously addicted to the iPad and it’s coinciding with the F****** Fours (yes, they are one trillion times worse than the so called Terrible Twos) in a horrifying and loud way. I think too much tech at younger ages is unnecessary, as their brains are learning to interpret the world, etc., but by the age of eleven can be used as the tool it’s meant to be. I recognize my opinion on that isn’t shared. Even so, my kids aren’t getting any kind of head implant until they are 18…. because that’s what will be cool by then, right?

  26. Gabrielle says:

    The AAP had released something a couple of years ago saying no screen time for children under 2, but now they released something else saying they relaxed that. I was really strict on screen time until my son was nearly 2 and speaking full sentences. Then I decided it would be ok if he watched a little tv. Now he watches Sesame Street, Daniel Tiger and some of the old Disney movies, like Dumbo, Lady and the Tramp. I think that’s fine but I’m still really strict on tablet/iphones whatever. I would rather my son just be really obnoxious and running around in a restaurant, like I’m sure I did when I was a kid, than to zombie him out in front of a tablet in public. I think it’s important to learn to interact with the real world even when it’s not convenient.
    PS we don’t go out to eat much.

    • jjva says:

      My daughter will be 2 in July and she’s gotten Daniel Tiger with me and soccer with her dad since she was a wee bean, but we don’t park her in front of the TV alone. She gets bored after maybe two episodes, anyway. Devices are a different matter, IMO — I show her pictures of herself on the iPad sometimes but we never leave her alone with an iPad or cell phone and the only one she gets to play with is a little kids’ one that has three buttons that make noises and display simple graphics when you push them. I’m really glad her day care doesn’t do screens at all, it makes me feel better about her getting 30 minutes here and there on evenings and weekends.

      I was out to brunch recently with some friends whose kids are older and all the kids (3-12) were just stuck on their phones the whole time. They were really quiet and behaved very well and I was kind of jealous because when we take our kid to restaurants she will sometimes color etc. but usually wants to walk or run around or sit on my lap or otherwise interact with the world. But I was also glad she’s not a screen zombie even if that does make us more annoying to sit next to at Applebee’s. :/

  27. Melly M says:

    Maybe it’s like it used to be with elevators, escalators etc.? In the beginning, a lot of people gushed about how “modern” human beings don’t have to move so much anymore. But then it became clear that we need to for our health.
    It is possible that we will realize someday that our brains become less fit because we don’t have to memorize things anymore and just look everything up on our phones and that children need to learn while having many haptic experiences instead of just using a pad or computer.

  28. latetoparty says:

    The only thing inhibiting the brain development is her

  29. prettylights says:

    She looks gorgeous in that bottom photo – her skin is flawless and I am loving that shade of lipstick! I’m glad her surgeries settled in.

    As for the other stuff – well, to each their own. I don’t have kids so I won’t say anything about this topic.

  30. Sara says:

    Does she mean brain development as in from the internet signals and cell phone signals? If so she is right. Internet and cell phone signals are detrimental to child brain development and many scientific studies prove this. This happens even when they are in your womb. Never put a laptop or phone over your belly when you are pregnant please.

  31. Lisa says:

    I can’t speak to the effectiveness of Waldorf schools, although they sound good in theory (from what I know). But I don’t think it’s a bad idea to put limits on screen time.

    My niece and nephew are turning 4, and they don’t have ipads and aren’t allowed to watch a lot of TV. They’re not being deprived, but they’re also not just being plunked in front of a screen for hours on end. When I grew up in the 90s, my brother and I watched tons of TV and played video games all the time. We even had TVs in our rooms from the time we were young, which my mom hated, I also admit to spending shitloads of time on the computer. But there were natural breaks and limitations built into that technology. We still had to go outside and socialize and do other things. Now, it’s too easy to go from one device to another, use more than one at the same time, or even take with you. Having instant access to everything and everyone all the time isn’t necessarily a good thing, especially for kids, no matter their age.

    So, I don’t get the hate.

  32. Tania says:

    Yes, god forbid those kids actually learn something with technology. Perhaps she should be more concerned with the crap she’s injecting into her face.

  33. Magnoliarose says:

    I tip toward Megan I that I limit tech time but my children are young. We don’t watch much TV but some movies together and my oldest knows how to use my phone and my computers. I do show them things they are interested in or we watch funny videos. My 4 year old loves snapping photos on my phone and we have fun making silly videos.
    But I do emphasize hands on activities such as art, cooking together, gardening, nature walks, physical activities, music and lately puppet shows and dress up. My daughter thinks she’s a cowgirl and wears her boots to preschool every single day. I just don’t bother with that battle. I just think ‘real world’ experiences are valuable and I like pushing their creative minds some. I like Montessori for this very reason.
    I just think you have to be realistic about the world we live in and teaching kids to navigate it without sacrificing creativity and ‘real world’ experiences. Technology is great and has so much value when used positively and when monitored. We have pets so my oldest two like looking at wild animals and learning or laughing at funny animal videos.
    Balance. It works.
    As far as diet, we don’t eat sugar but if we are out to dinner or at other people’s houses or Halloween, I think social experiences are far more important than a little sugar with friends. Besides I hate parental food bullies who try to police other people’s homes and diets. If there are allergies, I support and I try to be accommodating but I’m not going to change my child’s birthday request for chocolate cake for one child. I usually offer fruit or something but some parents are simply neurotic.

  34. Sandwich says:

    I think she has a point though, but it’s too much. I’d restrict the Internet, social media, and games mainly. Being youngish, most of my years in school were spent with a PC on all in most classes. I can’t speak for others but it supported my learning MASSIVELY (especially research skills and capturing ideas and confidence in STEM related subjects). I don’t know how her kids will be able to learn or do homework in certain areas because they might need apps like Excel. Having said that, I think computer-supported classes should be balanced with handwritten notes and computer-free classes – there was some study that showed you retain ideas better if you write things down rather than type, because it’s slower.
    She’s doing her kids harm by not being selective about what she’s limiting access to.

  35. Goodnight says:

    I think it’s a huge mistake to not avail yourself of the abundant technology we have to teach your kids from an early age. Social media is a pretty awful idea for kids, and gaming/internet needs to be monitored if the kid doesn’t self-monitor sufficiently, but to throw out that technology rather than harness it and make it work for you seems nuts to me.

    These days kids can really get a head start by using the internet and tablets to learn. They get practical skills with technology (which is absolutely crucial these days) as well as learning numeracy and literacy and feeling like they’re playing and having fun at the same time.

    Sure, the Amish function fine without technology – but her kids aren’t growing up to be Amish. They’re growing up as adults in a generation where they’ll be expected to be technologically literate and she’s doing them no favours by ensuring they’ll be behind their peers.

    Then again, her kids will grow up rich and it’s unlikely they’ll need to have the same skill set when they’re adults as their peers, so…

  36. LAK says:

    I’m with Megan.

    There is something to be said for learning and using your imagination without technology.

  37. Magpie says:

    Most Silicon Valley hot shots send their kids to Waldorfish schools and ban tech in early childood (there was a nytimes article about this paradox) and I think that’s very telling. Just because you didn’t have an iPad at 2 doesn’t mean you won’t be able to program it at 13. Old fashion learning tools like blocks and puzzles are so much better for young brains imo.

    We banned all tech and TV until 3 and now it’s only on the weekends. I find that the bedtime routine is so much easier when tech is not involved.

  38. Emily C. says:

    “countless facts and history on his own over the Internet”

    That made me cringe. At 11, he probably doesn’t have the education and critical thinking skills to separate the wheat from the chaff. If you want to learn basic dates in history, the internet works. If you want to learn anything complex — well, does he have a subscription to jstor? Does he stick with museum sites? There is SO much misinformation, twisting, simplification, and outright lies about history on the internet. Same with science.

  39. MSat says:

    I wish parents would just be honest and admit that they shove iPhones and iPads in front of their little kids’ faces to shut them up. There’s nothing on devices that they couldn’t learn in a book or by playing outside. The truth is parents today just want their kids to be quiet.