The other day I heard the words, 'Oh I wouldn't give my child the iPad to play with'. It caught me a little off guard and ever since it has left me wondering, have I done the right thing by introducing the iPad to Emily at such a young age?
Of course my toddler is going to be drawn to the iPad, its shiny, colourful and has a screen that responds to her touch. It lights up, moves and makes noise. It is literally the best kind of toy to her, but that's the thing, to her it is a toy. She picks it up and puts it down after about 15 minutes to move onto another activity. I believe that in this day in age, technology is all around her.
I remember rushing home from school to log into MSN to chat to my friends, or playing Sims on the computer. It feels like ages ago now, but the internet has always been a big part of my life just like I know it will be for Emily. I feel like it is important for Emily to become familiar with the internet, to know what it is, how she can use it safelty, and also how long is too long to be on it. At the same time I am also well aware of the example me and Sam set for her as parents. Sam has a IT job, so of course he is on the computer or fixing computers all day long, he has so many gadgets a gizmo's that it is hard to hide it from Emily. I also blog, and vlog which are souly dependent on the internet and being on my phone/laptop. That doesn't mean that we are sat on our iPads, phones or laptops all day long. I schedule posts, and make sure that I put my phone down often. I do lots of crafts, and play with Emily, but of course there are times when I take a few moments to myself to watch a video, so why shouldn't she be allowed to do the same?
I do feel like I would be hindering her development by not letting her become familiar with the internet and technology. I don't want to set a strict screen time, I want her to find her own balance (within reason of course). It is such a huge part of our society now, most schools set homework on the internet, if you go to a restaurant it is getting more common for them to take your order on a tablet. It is literally everywhere, so it makes no sense to me to hide that from her.
Even though there may be benefits of iPads for kids, it doesn't mean that I will let Emily sit for hours on end in front of the screen. It is my job as her mother to offer her alternative activities to do, crafts, drawings, role play, getting outside. A screen offers limited sensory environment and no physical exercise. Emily can't feel an app the same way she could her favourite stuffed bunny, or dress up clothing. She can't smell an app the way she can smell the cakes we baked together. She can't hold or manipulate the app the way she can hold and stack her Megablocks. She can't run with an app the way she can run around in the fresh air, exploring the way the weather effects her enviroment, for example the puddles that the rain creates. She can't connect with the app, the way she connects with me, the way she can hug me, these real-world activities give Emily the opportunity to use her body, and experience the environment. These things are just as important for her development. I don't think that sticking an iPad in front of her every time we are waiting for an appointment or in the car is necessarily the right thing either. I want her to learn to occupy her own thoughts using her imagination and not be dependent on the iPad. Again, it's balance.
So, I won't feel guilty about letting Emily play on my iPad, because it is a great learning tool. They're are plenty of apps aimed at toddlers to help them learn their numbers, letters and shapes. The iPad is just another tool for her to learn from, explore and enjoy, and I'm okay with that. Moderation is key.