is a blog about design, technology and culture written by Khoi Vinh, and has been more or less continuously published since December 2000 in New York City. Khoi is currently Principal Designer at Adobe, Design Chair at Wildcard and co-founder of Kidpost. Previously, Khoi was co-founder and CEO of Mixel (acquired by Etsy, Inc.), Design Director of The New York Times Online, and co-founder of the design studio Behavior, LLC. He is the author of “Ordering Disorder: Grid Principles for Web Design,” and was named one of Fast Company’s “fifty most influential designers in America.” Khoi lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn with his wife and three children. Refer to the advertising and sponsorship page for inquiries.+
My fourteen month-old daughter Thuy (who is completely adorable, by the way) adores few material objects in this world more than she does my iPhone. Among all of the toys that we’ve given her, and even among all of the things that she’s turned into toys, the iPhone is the one that consistently grabs her attention in almost any situation.
She’s at an age though where she doesn’t really use the phone so much as she just randomly handles it, pushing buttons on the screen here and there, turning it around, even holding it up to her ear (often backwards or upside down) to babble a conversation to some imaginary friend on the other end of the line. Mostly she’s just imitating what she sees her mother and me do when we use our iPhones, but it doesn’t change the fact that it can command her attention for ten or twenty minutes at a time — and for a parent of a young child, that’s gold.
Aside from its exorbitant cost, the iPhone is almost a perfect toy for her. Add a reasonably rugged case and it’s even more suitable for short spans of supervised play. Except for that damn home button.
As the only hardware button on the device’s face, the home button essentially functions as a huge target that commands Thuy to push it, and she complies. I might launch any of the great, kid-friendly apps and games that I’ve installed for her to play with, but she finds the home button completely irresistible and usually manages to activate it, escaping her out of the app and back to the home screen. From there of course she can really do some damage.
I wish Apple would allow developers of kid-friendly apps a way to temporarily disable that button in software. Of course, I’m a realist and so I’m not going to hold my breath. The best I can do instead is hope that some enterprising iPhone case manufacturer out there comes up with a clever design to let parents somehow prevent access to that home button. Sort of like the child safety caps you’ll see on prescription drug bottles, but for the iPhone. C’mon guys, help a father out.+