Thursday, March 12, 2009

Cell Phone as Sitter

I received an email from a friend this week:“My cell phone has become water logged. Can you send me your numbers to save in my new phone?”

Been there, done that.

Hubby Hawks and I have replaced more than one mobile device thanks to Hawklet slobber rendering them useless after a few months. Are we bad parents because we allowed our babies to chew on our cell phones? If you’re judging, go ahead and consider the hoards of parents who give their kids cell phones to play with, to keep them occupied in the car, or to serve as mediator in the midst of a public tantrum, in the middle of the grocery store, strangers staring. If you’re judging and you’ve never mothered a toddler, oh you just wait.

We give them our old cell phones when we upgrade to replace the water logged broken down versions. They become beloved additions to the toy box. The Hawklets walk around the house pretending to talk to us, to their grandparents, to imaginary friends. They don’t want no stinking toy cell phones – puh-lease! They know the difference. Toddler-intended ‘cell phones’ are just not as exciting as the real things. (And don’t try to give them a kiddie lap top, either! Hellooo - Mommy’s lap top isn’t brightly colored with gigantic yellow buttons that play music!)

Now, organizations like PBS Kids Sprout have developed new ways to leverage the phenomenon of cell phone as baby sitter. Oh yes, plopping Junior down in front of the TV is so amateur! Now you can hand him your iPhone and he can walk around the house or sit in his carseat edu-taining himself with emerging digital media. This is not your mother’s motherhood.

The great cell phone phenomenon becomes a bigger issue when those toddlers get bigger. Now we are seeing the emergence of teen issues like sexting. What’s that, you say? It’s yet another reason that the thought of parenting teens scares the bejesus out of me.

But still, as a marketer, I’m fascinated at the idea that I don’t even know what these devices (let’s face it; they’re not just ‘phones’ anymore) have in store for us even three years from now.

And by, 'us,' you know I mean moms. Will we pre-order our groceries via iPhone, while simultaneously taking advantage of mobile coupons? Will our kids get homework help via a virtual iPhone tutor? Will I be able to scan the Coach store with my iPhone from outside and find out exactly how many of the Op Art Juliane handbags in black may or may not be in stock without having to find a parking space and lug two toddlers inside?

We likely won't have to wait even three years to find out.

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