My daughter is 3 and half years old. My wife had iPhone (3g) before she was born, and I bought iPhone 4 when she was 6 months old. Then comes the iPad (1), and currently I have an iPad mini, and my wife has iPad 4. I spent about $30 buying apps for my daughter (mostly Toca Woca and Sigo Mini; also raywenderlich WildFable; and I see Ewe, I Hear Ewe). I felt the latter is better suitable for toddlers, while the former ones are more like games (which I have some reservations).
My observations on iPad app and screen time: my daughter also watches Netflix kids TV/Youtube for about half an hour a day. We tried pretty hard to make sure she did not watch too much TV before she was two (again, this is mostly from hearing her teachers’ advice; and from reading the articles about TV’s effect on growing children).
1) Moderation, moderation, moderation. It’s not easy. I know, we all have been there. Grabbing iPad/iPhone from crying toddlers. “5 more minutes”. But we need to be firm. Otherwise the 5 more minutes will means 15 more minutes. And the flood gates started here. I found out, if I’m consistent, and if the child is tired of the silly game/TV, and if we can provide a better alternative (reading books, something more fun), she gives up iPad quickly.
2) Engagement, engagement, engagement. When she was very young (probably around 2), sometimes we let her watch the “Curious George” on Netflix, together with parents. And she will have a lot of questions. In that sense, watching TV is not purely passive, and that’s a good thing. Same can be said of reading/listening the wild fable, and the I see Ewe/I hear Ewe.