Raising An iPad Generation

Baby on laptop

One thing I love about blogging is that I don’t need to have all the answers. I can talk about things that I think about, things that I question and debate but don’t ever seem to reach a conclusion on. Like my latest musings over children and technology, which I think are quite timely with Christmas fast approaching.

Im pretty sure some form of technology gadget, be it an iPad, iPhone or iTouch (for all those mini Apple aficionados) or a Galaxy Tab, Lexus or Lumia will be at the top of most children’s Christmas lists this year, which leads me to my question; “at what age do you start to allow children to have access to tablets and other technology if at all?”

Before I had children I had always thought that I would be one of those parents that didn’t let their children watch TV, full stop. The subject of technology had never entered my mind. I suppose because iPads and iPhones weren’t really around back then so I had no reason to think they would be as prevalent as they are today. That they would pose a bigger question than TV does. Incidentally I do allow my daughter to watch TV very, very occasionally – its funny how your perspective on things change once you actually have children.

However Ive noticed over the last year or two that children seem to be getting access to tablets and the like younger and younger. Ive also noticed that they have a bit of a knack for it. But im in two minds about how to approach this with my daughter. Because on the one hand, I feel that developmentally exposure to such technology cant be a good thing for her young developing brain. However, on the other hand technology is clearly the future and surely it would only make sense for her to get to grips with it whilst she is young like the rest of her generation seem to be. Should I really be the one holding her behind when I don’t know what the future looks like? But there is a part of me that wants her to experience the real pages in books and not electronic ones on a Kindle, that wants her to enjoy stacking real wooden alphabet blocks and have fun playing with a real abacus rather than through apps on an iPad. For me its a real dilemma. These tablets and gadgets offer so much so easily. She can do all of the things I describe above and more without even having to move from one location. No having to get out different toys and put them away, or even necessarily having to buy new toys. These tablets and gadgets make it all so easy and convenient, for both the child and the parents. They are not only play things, but educational too. They are an entertainer, an educator and a distraction all in one. The thing is, no matter how hard I try to conceal the iPad or iPhone from my daughter, she sees it and she notices. I see her attention caught by the shiny things with lights on. At 5 months old my daughter is already entranced by these gadgets (what is it about children and technology?!). At the same time, I am aware of just how much I use both of these things so how can I expect her not to want to do the same once she is able to.

Our neighbours recently came round for coffee with their five year old son. With Christmas approaching I asked the parents what toys he is currently into. I was expecting to hear something along the lines of cars, Monsters Inc or perhaps Lego. What I wasn’t expecting to hear was that their child is no longer into toys. That he used to like cars but since he started using the iPad all he likes is the iPad. I didn’t bother to ask whether he liked the cars we bought for him a few months ago. The point is, that at five years old a child has stopped enjoying toys because of a piece of technology has made them redundant in his world. Now perhaps that is a one off, but it was the saddest thing Ive heard in a long time, and it is not something that I want for my daughter.

So the question I put out there to other parents is how are you raising your iPad generation? How have you introduced and moderated technology in their lives? What has your approach been? What have you learnt and what are your recommendations to new parents?

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5 Comments

  1. December 15, 2013 / 10:09 am

    Apparently kids need to learn in 3D, so tablets and the like need to be a bit like TV, part of the mix, but not the main game in town.

    • December 15, 2013 / 11:02 am

      I haven’t heard it put like that before, but that sounds like a good way to think about it.

  2. December 15, 2013 / 11:51 pm

    A 16 year old can get to grips with a simple tablet interface as easily as can a small child. There’s no reason to introduce it early except perhaps fear of ostracising a child from a peer group for whom it’s an expectation.

    If you want them to be computer savvy introduce them to computer internals (hardware etc) and programming – tablets etc are meant to be easy to use, and are, and anyone of normal intelligence, young enough to have basic familiarity with GUI idioms (i.e. icons, text, windows, applications etc) will be able to pick them up with no trouble at all.

    My main fear when I have kids with that stuff is it’s too much of a distraction. I hear younger people hardly read books nowadays because looking things up online is more “instant gratification” – but it comes at a cost of depth.

  3. July 2, 2016 / 8:21 pm

    Its all about balance. I don’t agree with it being rammed down kids throats. So many times we’ve been out for a meal and kids from the age of 1 to teens are glued to a phone or iPad. This wasn’t something that was around when my eldest was very small- she coloured or we found things to look at or do to keep her occupied, and now at 8 she sits and joins in chatting or doing an activity sheet etc. It’ll be the same with Pops. Her tablet is kept by us and she can use it maybe once or twice a week and we monitor what she goes on and she’s happy with that. Whilst the internet is amazing it’s just one wrong click and she could see something totally inappropriate. x
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  4. March 20, 2017 / 2:27 pm

    I recently wrote a blog post on all the top apps I have found that my girls (1 and 4yrs) love and stated in it how my girls have used an ipad since they were around 7months, which will appal some parents I am sure. However, my girls have a healthy balance, yes they are very touch screen and technology literate but that is by no means their favourite toy and they are not glued to it non-stop, they pick it up and pack it away just as they would with any other activity. When we go out (with the exception of long journeys) we don’t use mobile devices, in restaurants we take activity books etc. iPads and other devices are really educational if used in the right way, which is why I shared all the apps I have found to be good. The majority of primary classes now use ipads and technology in the classroom on a daily basis. Studies have also shown that use of touch screen helps overall development of fine motor skills. So I would say use them wisely and to your child’s advantage, this is their future and they are amazing educational devices but just like anything else they can be used ‘wrongly’ or inappropriately.

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