For me and most moms I know, the process of raising a child creates a kind of “what’s mom’s is mine” mentality. When a colicky baby becomes an “active” toddler and you can finally appease him with half your beloved Auntie Anne’s pretzel, you do it. You are willing to sacrifice a lifetime Oprah for Arthur and Cyberchase if he will just let you stop pushing Thomas around the track for 15 minutes. From my milkshake to my Snuggie to my favorite magazine they need to cut up for a project, what’s mine is theirs.
So, when my husband informed me that my cell phone contract would be up soon and that I should think about a new phone, I knew that the iPhone that I wanted would be a communal one. What I didn’t know is how difficult that could be.
The difficulty does not arise in refereeing whose turn it is to use it. The difficulty arises in the fact that much of what comes along with the device is really made for adults.
Take a look through the Top 25 apps in the App Store and you will find something completely inappropriate for 11- to 6-year-olds to even see listed. So for communal use, I have to disable the App Store.
Add to that the fact that Safari, the web browser on the iPhone, cannot be filtered. Whatever you typically filter from your kids on the internet is competely accessible on the iPhone. That’s not acceptable to me.
I found an app called Mobicip, which is an iPhone or iPod Touch browser with age-based filtering. So I disabled Safari and figured I could work from within Mobicip. It’s a fine filter, but from it I cannot add appointments to my Google calendar. It says “Error trying to save event. Please try again later.” But later never comes. I also cannot launch my Google app (the app is somehow tied to Safari) to take me directly to my calendar, tasks, docs and such. Kills the purpose of a PDA.
So, I often find myself in the “settings” area switching on and off the Apps Store and Safari based on in whose hands I expect the device to be next.
Can the iPhone be communal? Only with contstant oversight. As with most digital distractions in today’s world, vigilant monitoring is still required.