Monday, March 18, 2013

Thanks A Lot, Rovio!

My 22-month-old son LOVES Angry Birds! And I've loved letting him play - it's been great for problem-solving. First he had to figure out how to navigate the app. Then he had to figure out how to make the birds go in the right direction - his first instinct, of course, was to swipe the way he wanted them to go. It took him weeks to figure out how to pull them back and let them go. Now he's starting to get excited every time he smashes a piggie, and I think soon he'll be working on actual strategy to aim the birds at the piggies. (Not quite there yet, but hey, he's not even two, cut him some slack!)

All of that came to an abrupt halt yesterday. Why? Well, Rovio pushed Angry Birds Toons onto every Angry Birds app on every platform. Now, next to the big Play button that takes you to the game, there's an equally-big Toons button. This basically takes you to a built-in TV station with Angry Birds cartoons to watch.

I don't think my son has played the actual game since. He just keeps turning it to the video channel and zombie-ing out.

I keep my toddler's TV time and iPad time separate, and for good reason. TV can be a very useful educational tool in limited quantities, but research has shown that at his age toddlers don't learn as effectively from TV as from the real world. Too much TV can actually hinder their language development, even if it's good shows like Sesame Street. When he watches TV (which is very limited, and entirely through Netflix or DVD), he becomes a lump. He stares vacantly, sits there, doesn't pay attention to what's happening around him.

When he plays games on the iPad, he's actively engaged. He's developing hand-eye coordination, he's solving problems, he's often even interacting with the rest of the world (his new favorite is to play Endless Alphabet and go find his foam letters to match the ones in the game). He still needs to spend lots of time playing with physical toys and running around and reading books, so obviously he's not on the iPad all day (and anyhow, it's my iPad damn it, I want to use it!), but I definitely allow him more iPad time than TV time.

But now Angry Birds has turned the iPad into another TV screen. He's glued to the videos the same way he's glued to Wonder Pets. And as far as I can tell (through both inspection of the game and Googling), there is no way to turn them off the way you can turn off power-ups!

It looks like I'm going to have to delete the game, or at least hide it away in a folder where only mommy and daddy can find it. Thanks a lot, Rovio. I'm sure I'm not the only parent who is annoyed by this.

1 comment:


    Use this link then your kiddo can't go onto the video only play the game- I think. Good tips though thanks clearly written easy to follow