Kids with iPads are Appsolutely Normal
As a kid, my spare time was filled with outdoor playtime, naps (though I admit they were rare) daily afternoon cartoons, playing house and reading books or taking trips to the library. A decade and a sibling later, so many things have changed.
Our generation cannot handle being disconnected anymore – whether it is through a phone, the computer or tablets, we always have to tinker with something. I had my share of early technology too – through Nokia phones, Tetris handheld games, and dial up internet connections on boxy personal computers.
It’s a funny irony, how toddlers turn out to be better at handling gadgets and iPads than their parents. Even if the gadgets are meant to be for the enjoyment of the adults, they always get passed down to the kids – unless they malfunction or break before the younglings get their hands on it.
Technology was created and meant to make our lives easier, not deter our growth as humans. It’s up to us how we handle it. Since the first iPads came out in 2010, it has become a staple family gadget, especially when it came to teaching and “taming” kids.
If you ever decide to give your child an iPad, keep in mind to balance its use with other toys, physical activity (indoors and out), leisure reading and social interactions.
Technology is widely used in schools and universities. Compared to laptops and personal computers, iPads are much more portable and accessible. Thanks to this innovation, those with disabilities, especially children with autism, can use the iPad to communicate and improve their motor skills.
For other families, these can be used as time killers occasionally, at doctor’s appointments, waiting rooms or any activity that requires short term waiting and boredom relievers.
From an angle, allowing toddlers to play for 30 to 60 minute at most can be beneficial as long as they’re playing interactive games rather than passive and violent ones. Furthermore, a study done by University of Iowa, led by researcher and associate professor Juan Pablo Hourcade, revealed that by age two, 90 percent of toddlers had moderate ability to use a tablet.
Doing a Digital Detox
Instead of boosting your child’s learning ability, too much technology might deter it. Popular manufacturer of children’s equipment Fisher-Price’s latest produce was a baby bouncy seat with an iPad attachment. Many parents and child advocacy groups stirred up a controversy, saying the product encourages parents to spend less face-to-face time with their babies. Plus, this is also one of the earliest ways to ruin a child’s eyesight.
A four-year-old has even been diagnosed with an iPad addiction. As reported in The Sunday Mirror, “The tot in question first got her hands on the tablet when she was 3, The Sunday Mirror reported. Within a year, she was attached to it, using it up to four hours per day and becoming apoplectic when her parents tried to take it away.”
Another article on What to Expect shares a mother’s sentiments saying: “our child can’t feel an app the way she can feel her stuffed animal or her dress-up clothes. She can’t smell an app the way she can smell the cookies you bake together. She can’t hold and manipulate an app the way she can hold and stack blocks or Legos. She can’t run with an app the way she can romp in the fresh air, and she can’t connect with an app the way she can when she hugs you.”
When used properly, it is actually a great educational tool. However, rather than being a source of entertainment, the ever-coveted iPad has also become a burden on some parents.
Control and Compromise
The easiest way to reduce their iPad usage is by showing it thru example. If they see that you only spend a reasonable amount of time using the gadget, they too will follow after you.
Set general rules for EVERYONE at home so it’s all fair and square. If it gets uncontrollable, turn off the Wi-Fi and change the password.
To monitor their usage, there are apps you can install that will help set a boundary, track their usage and the content of their searches.
If used correctly, there’s no limit to what technology can do. We’ve come a long way from handheld video games and Gameboys; now we’re able to access the newest mobile games with just a few clicks.
One thing’s for sure: as much as I enjoy reaping the benefits of technology now, I’m glad I grew up in a world without it. It’s comforting to know that I can survive either situation.
Just make sure you prioritize your child’s first steps over first swipes at a screen.