Guest Blog – Entertaining Kids in the Age of iPhone

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Guest blog by: Michele, who loves her iPhone. And loves unplugging even more. You can find her playground blogging at Fun Orange County Parks. She writes…

Entertaining Kids in the Age of iPhone

Waaaaaayyyyyy back when I was a kid:

If we missed the name of a song or the artist when the DJ came on, tough luck. We’d have to try to find the record at the store by quizzing the employees.

We made mixes on cassette tapes – not playlists on iPods.

Cartoons were only on Saturday mornings and the highlight was Schoolhouse Rock.

Educational kids television programming totalled 10 hours per week and consisted only of Sesame Street and Electric Company. Okay, PBS had 3-2-1 Contact, too.

We played video games in arcades or on Atari or Coleco-Vision.

No one had cell phones (and if they did they were the size and weight of cinderblock).

Maps and address books were on paper.

Calendars hung on the wall.

Cameras required film that you had to bring to the drugstore to develop.

We had Pen Pals who we’d write letters overseas and across the country – mailing them with stamps.

Playing outdoors was all the entertainment we needed.

Today, I hold a magic box in my pocket. It’s only slightly longer than the old-fashioned cassette tape, but much thinner. I take it wherever I go. Everyone in my family uses it for a different purpose.

When I hear a song I like, I hold out my iPhone and Shazam tells me who it is and I can buy it on the spot.

Pandora makes a playlist with only one song suggestion from me. It’s my own personal radio station.

Cartoons are on 24 hours a day on Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network. OnDemand is an often overlooked source of non-stop cartoons. I download Schoolhouse Rock from iTunes to pull out when we’re on long car drives for entertaining the kids.

PBS has 6+ hours of educational programming per day now. Not to mention PBS Sprout or Noggin (preschool on TV). I can download a number of educational apps to my iPhone: Wheels on the Bus, KidArt, Letter Tracer, Mathemagics, and Grammar Up to name a few (click on Education from this link to see the top choices). In fact, there are 35,000 apps available and counting.

Pocket God, Armageddon Squadron, BubbleWrap live on my iPhone. Look at the Entertainment or Games tab to find more.

Everyone can always reach me by phone, snail mail, e-mail, text or Twitter. In fact, they get annoyed if I don’t respond within a few minutes time.

Maps and Contacts are standard-issue on an iPhone. I even have TideGraph to tell me the tides and Weather at my fingertips. There need not be any mystery in my life.

I sync all my calendars by flicking a button.

I take photos and instantly e-mail them to friends or post them online.

I communicate instantly with “Pen Pals” on Twitter and through e-mail or blog comments.

None of these activities entertain me as much as the time – I spend outdoors playing with OUR kids.


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  1. 1
    Dara says:

    Well written and all very true. My kids will never know the frustration of trying to get to a certain song on a cassette tape only to realize you have been fast forwarding the tape instead of rewinding it! And I really do want an IPhone…desperately. Really, the Shazam application would make me so happy! With that being said, some of my happiest moments are playing with my children outside. Your last line hits the nail on the head!

  2. 2
    Jen says:

    Dara, I am laughing out loud at your comment. Wow, does that bring back memories! I had a pastel “ghetto blaster” – is that how it is SPELLED?! – to play my mixed tapes. And, endless time fast forwarding.

    Now, my 3 year old is also “OnDemand.” She knew the words “pause it” and “rewind” before she was 3 and she can request not only to watch Dora, but the EPISODE!

    I remember WAITING for 3-2-1 contact to come on…

  3. 3
    Sarah says:

    Wow, i was taken aback when i read this. I remember that time with so much regrets… When you could just go out and meet all your friends without endlessly texting them about where to meet, where are you gonna wait, what are you gonna do… And, you’re right, spending time with kids is often highlight of the day, especially since so many kids are hooked to their gadgets most of the day…

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