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Raising a Baby or Toddler in the Digital Age

By Jeana Lee Tahnk

The environment our babies are growing up in now is so different than it was 10 or even five years ago. It makes me sound old to be reminiscing about "the simpler times back then," but in some ways, life was easier without all the technological advances we have access to today.

There are apps for toddlers, electronic toys for babies and homes that are filled to the brim with gadgets. As much of a proponent I am of babies not using technology until at least the age of 2, the reality is that we live in a tech-filled world and it's hard to completely shield them from that.

Our baby lives in a house where her parents check their iPhones and her brother and sister play on a tablet, watch TV and use their gaming devices. She sees a world around her where people can ask their phones a question and get a response or order their TVs to find a particular program.

As someone who has been in the tech industry for a long time, I have seen my fair share of kids' apps. While I don't like the idea of young babies interacting with technology, I do believe technology can provide educational (and entertainment) benefits to older kids.

Why am I hesitant to introduce technology at an early age? In my opinion, what's the rush? Kids are going to live a life full of technological advances, many we can't even begin to fathom. With a future path of gadgetry and gizmos, I'd like to retain as much of the simple life as possible, for as long as possible.

I'd rather read a book with my baby than listen to a narrative on a screen. I'd rather play with blocks instead of tap on squares on a tablet. My baby is happy to gnaw on a rubber spatula and hit it against a bowl. At this age, she doesn't need all the extra bells, whistles, flashing lights and stimulation that can come with technology.

It's impossible to raise her in a world devoid of technology, but until she starts seeking the technology - and until I'm ready to give it to her - the rubber spatula and bowls are just fine for both of us.

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