I've already expressed a part of my views on the matter -- one concerning the conduct, and Alphabet's conduct, in particular -- in a response to kleinbl00's comment. Now, I'd like to focus on parenting that's another part of the issue.
I'm not a parent, myself. I have no children, and have barely had experience with others'. But I think a lot about it, because at some point, I want to have a family of my own. I think about the things I want to teach my child -- or, to let my children learn, as it were -- and "just let them watch YouTube videos" is one of the more obvious points that comes up often as I look around at what other parents do.
It is unsettling how many parents are willing to let their children imbue themselves into escapism and instant gratification from such a teachable young age. The children learn -- but what do they learn? That their purpose is to be quiet and not interrupt their parents' unfulfilled lives, wasted away on constant chatter and yelling at the skies for not giving them what they want? That if they're sad, they can always go on the Internet and find something that will soothen the pain, despite not nearly healing it?
A child can learn incredibly quickly -- that much is to no dispute. They're the ones who are going to inherit from us, still young enough, the technological advancement, -- and they will run with it, way quicker than us, ourselves being reduced to the old people we so love to snicker at. I'm okay with that. I will fight for my children's right and ability to interact and integrate with technology, even if it may reduce my part in their lives. It's satisfying to be the source of information for your child -- they treat you as a bag of holding full of useful knowledge -- but that era is already past. I'll still be there for them as a parent, and I will try my best to answer their questions, but if they can learn better from someone else -- either someone with more experience or simply with better charisma -- then, other things being equal, they should.
That being said...
Technology, like any part of our lives, is never black and white. It's never about whether it brings just the good or just the bad. There are positives, but there are also caveats needing to look out for.
Parents are not machines. Like the author has said in his article (paraphrased), "if it brings parents some relief, then OK". The contemporary stressfulness of living, exaggerated by many sources as it may be, still takes an inevitable toll on the person. We all need rest from time to time, and taking care of a child at a very young age can be a test of one's limits indeed.
I would rather live on Red Bull for two years than to let my child see me as mere gift-giver and homework assistant. It's my reponsibility to bring my child into the world to the best of my knowledge and effort, and I'll be cast to the deepest pits of Hell before I let myself off this bumpy ride. To give them a smartphone streaming cartoons is an insult to what this little person can become. So many young men and women can become great later in their lives simply because of what their parents left them in the first few years of their lives: the discipline, the curiousity and the tenacity to overcome the obstacles they'll inevitably encounter.
This, however, raises a question for me personally and, I think, for many new parents around the world. We grew up with a different set of entertainment issues, and none was as subtly powerful as the modern Internet's ability to capture one's attention. What do we do with this particular problem? How do we solve it?
Simply not let children near the Internet for the first eighteen years? That's absurd. Helicopter over your child, checking everything for malicious contents? You're not letting your child live, lady; get out of the class!
What, then? Parental controls, only letting your kid to the trusted sources? And who would establish which sources to trust? You? You're a cretin when it comes to the vast information field of the Internet. Even the most educated psychologists are stumbling: how can you do better?
Do you even have to do anything? My instincts say I do: not because I must control everything that's happening in my kid's life, but because I'm more equipped to deal with the dangers of the modern world. I've lived some, I've seen some things. The degree to which I should do so, however, as well as the venues which require careful observation are beyond my current understanding -- and that's scary. Nobody wants to mess up their child's life -- even though we all inevitably will, whatever we do.