Earbuds for toddlers and little kids? Not so much…

iFrogz Animatone Earbuds for KidsI may be old school, but I like talking with people. I like social settings, and I even like overhearing other people’s conversations. It might be the writer in me, but us humans are actually pretty interesting. And my kids? They’re 10x interesting to me, with their chatter, their dreams, their interpretation of current events, and even their own conversations amongst themselves.

What are they thinking?

The tension comes in because we live in a world where technology is pushing us into hermetically sealed bubbles. You can see it at every high school, every college campus, where instead of interacting, the kids are glued to their mobile devices, eschewing conversation with the people around them in favor of whomever’s on the other end of the device.

This trend isn’t limited to social settings either. I often lecture in college classrooms and it’s astonishing how few are actually paying attention, and if I’m in the back of the room and can see everyone’s laptop screens, it’s clear that they’re checking Facebook, instant messaging their significant other, or just wasting time on a game or sports updates. Instead of participating.

That’s why when I saw the latest advert from iFrogz, the image upset me. Indeed, the introduction of its new Animatone earbuds  struck me as very much a trend I would rather decry: earbuds, headphones and the exceedingly early adoption of the personal tech bubble that seems to surround us far too frequently.

To be fair, I really like iFrogz and have lots of their products. Good stuff, good design, and good manufacturing. I also understand the business case for ‘breaking into a new market’. But…

But really, do little ones really need earbuds or headphones so darn young? Can’t parents just talk with them or teach them to entertain themselves without the ubiquitous digital babysitter?

In a curious coincidence of timing, a friend (Hi Rick!) posted on Facebook just this morning that in her daughter’s 2nd grade class, 75% of the children admitted to having a television in their own bedroom.

Yikes.

The personal tech bubble is real, and it’s having an adverse impact on relationships. Can’t we slow this train down, just a little bit, and encourage our children to be present and participating instead of unplugged and in their own little worlds?

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  1. I completely agree that we are in an age of ignoring those within reach while we focus on the tech infront of us, It’s sad that many of us spend more time talking to our laptops and iphones than we do our friends next door. That said – I like the idea of these earbuds. I have to say though, I’d be surprised to hear young kids like them. In our family, we put cell phones away and actually eat together as a family… most every night. I’m constantly saying “don’t text someone else while I’m talking to you” to my teen. But when there is “everyone fend for themselves” time, the ipads, iphones and other tech toys comes out. A room with 5 people and 5 different accompanying audio streams is overwhelming, so headphones are a definitely necessity. Even moreso on roadtrips. However, so far, we haven’t found earbuds or headphones of any kind that are preferred by the young kids.. usually they just turn the volume down and hope we can’t all hear it.. I’d like to see a company address that “need” with something comfortable and safe.