As I watched my daughter flick Pup Treats to the Paw Patrol the other day, I asked myself if I was doing something wrong? Should my toddler have a tablet? She’s three for heaven’s sake, and she knows how to swipe, tap, double tap and turn the WiFi on and off.
I’ve always had a knack for new tech toys. I also have a weakness for Apple products. If I could have a Macbook in every room, even the bathroom, I would. I think they are stylish and the most durable, long lasting PC on the market. But, I’m not a tech guru; I’m just kind of obsessive with the fact that I haven’t had a virus in over three years since switching to Mac. Hallelujah!
I’m making my way around my tangent, back to my point. I initially bought an iPad for myself when Sydnee was close to two. I downloaded the few games I’m out of control addicted to, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. I didn’t intend to let my two year old get her grubby hands all over my precious new $300 device, but it happened, and I let it.
Fast forward about a year and here the current situation: there 15+ paid kids’ apps on the iPad and one of my games—I switched Candy Crush to my phone for easier access. I’ve deleted my social media apps for fear that a co-worker would find a gibberish post by a toddler on her Facebook wall.
The questions remains, should my toddler have a tablet? And at what age is it appropriate for a child to have a tablet?
In my humble mommy blogger opinion, the toddler stage is a great time to buy a tablet, even if it isn’t solely for the child. Gasp! I know there are some judging eyes out there reading this, thinking I am the mom who plops her child on the couch with the iPad to keep her preoccupied, but allow me to explain.
Research Says Tablets can be Beneficial in Intellectual Development
At this stage, 2-5 years old, in your child’s life, they are learning at a very rapid pace, both physically and intellectually. According to Facts of Life Global, this stage sets the foundation of a child’s future successes in school, family and personal growth. Yeah, these years are super important, and they shouldn’t be wasted or neglected.
I try my best to engage me daughter in activities that aid in her development every day. We sculpt playdoh; it helps with fine motor skills and color identification. We read 2-4 books a day. We color. We have conversations around the dinner table and work on pronunciation of words.
Still, I don’t have the time or the skillset to teach her everything her little brain is ready to take in. Enter the iPad. One of her favorite apps is the PBS Kids app, and it offers a variety of educational games that teach shapes, colors, numbers and vocabulary. And because she is actively engaged and enjoying “the game”, she picking up on these skills.
There are thousands of children’s apps that are fun and encourage learning. The idea that learning and education has to be strict, monotonous and boring is outdated and irrational and held onto by people of older generations because it was the way their education went. This is my own opinion, and I realize it may upset some people. What’s that hashtag, #sorrynotsorry.
Everyone Needs Downtime
Whether you’re 2 or 100 it’s completely normal to need time to wind down and do a quiet, independent activity. For me, it’s reading, writing or getting sweaty in the spare bedroom (at-home cardio, you pervs). Children need this time just as much as adults, and I think if they want to spend that time playing a game on a tablet, it’s better than watching most of the cartoons on modern television.
Want to make sure your child is getting the most of their downtime on a tablet? Download games that have educational value. Both the App Store and Google Play offer hundreds of options. Don’t assume that because they have or use a tablet that the games have to be mind-numbing and pointless.
Allowing a Toddler to Use an Ipad is Preparing Them to Use Technology in School
Around our area, there are at least four school districts that give all students a device for schoolwork. Where I work, the students have laptops, but last year they used iPads. Now the elementary schools use iPads and the High School uses Windows tablets that convert to desktop PCs.
Getting a child acquainted and comfortable with technology will help them adjust to entering school. Teaching a child to respect a device is an important part of development. Whether you get them a tablet now or not, eventually they will be using a computer or other device owned by the school or someone else. They will need to know what is acceptable and what is not. It’s part of our duty as parents to make sure they understand these expectations and adhere to them.
I certainly do not allow Sydnee to spend countless hours on the iPad, but I’m not going to restrict her from learning by taking the iPad away indefinitely. The research goes both ways on this issue, but I have personally decided that pros outweigh the cons for my daughter. Ultimately it is up to you to decide.
If you want to do some further reading on the topic, check out these articles: