We are embracing technology, there is finally an iPad in the house…
We wavered for ages, about getting more technology. I am a bit of a geek, I do like gadgets and things that make life easier are great but we hadn’t purchased an iPad, mainly because they are SO expensive. However, we took the plunge, after some research, and my Dad brought us an iPad from Thailand, as to be honest, you get more product for your money with the exchange rate.
I waver between being wary of kids being exposed to technology and using it too much, and fascination and admiration, when I watch how quickly and easily my children seem to work out how to use it. Little Man, we found out, has managed to figure out the codes for not only the TV cable box, but my iPhone, Kindle and iTunes on the PC too, and after a couple of strained conversations between LSH and I as to why we suddenly were receiving bills from iTunes for in app purchases and music, both of us denying responsibility, we realised who the true culprit was, and hastily changed our passwords and codes. It’s always a good idea to have in app purchasing switched off on devices, too, if your children are using them regularly, we have learned from our mistakes! Little Man, it seems, is very adept, with technology, so you can imagine his delight, at the arrival of a brand new iPad, in the Mad House of Cats & Babies.
We plan to be pretty strict with screen time, and how much the children use what is supposed to be MY iPad, but I suspect will end up being shared with them. We have noticed particularly with Big Girl, that if we let her have as much time on tablets, or the pc as she likes, she can get a bit grumpy and withdrawn, and so we limit the amount she has daily. We do the same with Little Man, too. LSH is an expert on internet safety, and we have pretty tough filters on our router, WiFi and on the PC and iPad and Kindle, and a separate profile for the children, to log into, so we are doing everything possible to protect them and allow them to play safely, and they are always supervised, with an adult nearby and Big Girl knows if she has concerns on something she has seen or finds, to come and tell one of us.
However, I am NOT anti tablets/computer time for children. I think, like everything else, moderation, supervision and common sense are key. Little Man uses an iPad at nursery to play games whilst learning his letters, sounds, and also for number work, and Big Girl uses a computer at school, and in fact, next term, will do all of her Maths homework online. We also let them play games, watch videos and films, at home. I read articles posted online, by other people, making statements about how bad screen time is for children, that laptops and tablet devices are evil, bad for children and lazy parenting, and I shrug. Yes, if they are used too much, they aren’t great, but finding a balance and letting our children have access to these things is important. I am all for my children getting lots of fresh air, exercise, reading real books, playing real games, interacting with their friends, in fact I am probably more “old fashioned about those things than many people I know, but I am also keen to embrace things that our children will have to learn to use, in this “modern” world. Technically everything any one does is bad, if done to extremes. Yes, if my 4 year old sat in front of the TV all day or played on my iPad all day it would not be beneficial to him, but half an hour, here and there, or even a bit longer, is not going to do him any harm. We have to face the reality that technology is changing and these things will be a part of our children’s futures and letting them use them, and learn from and with them, is not a bad thing. That doesn’t mean we will be buying individual iPads or anything else for the children any time soon, I do think they are too expensive for small children to have as “toys”, although I know many who disagree with me. We plan to let the children use the iPad and other devices we have, and Big Girl would like her own Kindle to be able to read books and play games, but we are not ready for her to have her own yet, and I don’t think she is ready either, we may let her earn pocket money and encourage her to save, for one, for next year though.
It is pretty amazing what we have, available to us, when I compare it to my childhood.
Who remembers these computers? We had one, and thought it was brilliant, and I remember playing Castle Quest and trying to write letters on it.(photo source)
Or the first ever mobile phone that practically had no battery, needed it’s own bag to be carried anywhere, and it’s charger was so huge, it needed it’s own table?
When you think about what we had then, how big, clunky, and impractical they were, yet we thought they were amazing, and what we have now, our children are very lucky. I remember watching Star Trek, and thinking the “tricorders” they had, that practically did everything, were really cool. (Cue a photo of Spock, from the original Star Trek, because, well I am a bit of a geek, he wasn’t bad looking, if you didn’t mind the ears! 😉 )
Now I have an iPhone that I can change TV channels with, find when the next bus is coming, send postcards, video call my Dad and the in-laws thousands of miles away, and so many other useful things and an iPad that is small enough to fit in my handbag yet powerful enough to run like a computer.
So, we are excited, and embracing the technology. A little common sense and supervision on screen time, and what they are accessing, but letting them explore and learn and have fun. Now, I have to persuade the children that the iPad is actually not theirs, and that I would like to be able to use it, occasionally….