Digital Rattles? iParenting with the iPhone

He noticed that other apps for the iPhone that claimed to be kid-friendly were still too frustrating for his 4- and 6-year-old.

"So I decided to build a simulation of a favorite kid toy -- wooden blocks," he said. "You stack them and knock them down, and that's it. ... Grownups who look at it sometimes don't get it because it's so simple, but that's why the kids love it."

Christopher Taylor, a Minn.-based father of two, also created his own application when he realized how much his iPhone fascinated his 2-year-old daughter (and her younger brother). "I could diffuse a tantrum by handing them the phone," he said.

But because he worried that excessive screen time at such a young age might turn his kids into "vidiots," he thought he'd use the opportunity to educate them while entertaining them.

So, in March, the interactive planner for a global marketing company teamed up with friend Victor Johnson, who also happened to be a father, and taught himself how to code.

Parents Learn With Their Kids

"It's actually fairly challenging," Taylor said. "I did spend a few months banging my head against the wall."

But the payoff came when he took the prototype and put it in his daughter's hands. Because his daughter was just learning her letters and numbers, the game is focused on those skills as well as music and shapes.

"It's just amazing to watch your child learn," he said. "Watching your child learn is one of the most rewarding experiences."

And he sent ABC 123 Blocks, the new iPhone app, off to Apple for approval last week. Although it's not available in the apps store, he and Johnson hope it will be approved soon.

As their kids learn and grow out of the apps they build from them, Taylor said he hopes their apps will increase in sophistication, too.

"We're learning while our kids are learning," he said, adding, "I would love it somewhere down the line if I could code with my daughter."

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