Written by Annabel Wyatt
Have you noticed all the kids and screens lately? It seems the way to your little one’s heart is not through toys games anymore, it’s with tablets, Ipads and gadgets. Yesterday, I saw a four year old boy carrying an Ipad through town. Remember back when you were little and your Grandparents would tell you how the only toys they had were balls and rackets etc and all made from wood? Nowadays, with technology moving so fast, we begin to sound like that to our kids! I didn’t start using the Internet in my house until I was about 18 – we just never had an up to date computer. Remember when you’d plug the Internet into the phone line and it would cost loads of money on the phone bill too? Yup, practically primitive today! My parents didn’t have mobile phones at all and this was before iPods too!
Is it any wonder we’re freaking out that our tiny ones are using new technologies like iPads and smart phones? They’re everywhere! It’s inevitable that kids are going to see this and want to play and learn, and what an excellent way to learn too, with fun, engaging and practically addictive apps – even the educational ones!
But how do you instil a sense of balance in your household when the wee ones have captured your iPad and are holding it to ransomed of a tantrum? Well, that’s the difficulty…
Here’re a few thoughts about how to manage iPad/ tablet and gadget activity:
- A few tantrums are inevitable – Lets face facts, anyone who gets through the iPad/ tablet/ gadget era without a tantrum is, like, super human! Tantrums will happen, that’s kids! I bet you did it with your toys and they’ll do it with their more traditional toys too. But a full on meltdown after every iPad session may be a sign to moderate gadget activity for a while!
- Try apps and games out yourself first – test the waters, are these games too addictive? Are you seeing yourself becoming addicted to this? (more likely than you think) Just like with TV, get some parental monitoring on apps and games.
- Create routines away from gadgets – eg: you must have 10 minuets of reading a book before bed time or 1 hour of outdoor time after dinner. Go on a family walk or have some creative time with drawing or making things.
- Converse about the games themselves – Talk with the kids about what’s happing in their games, what their learning or have learnt as a result. No doubt they’ll want to tell you themselves but keep the conversation going longer.
- Invest in a kids alternative – To stop little ones changing settings or damaging your expensive stuff, there are great child alternatives out there that are specially designed for kids eg: the Nabi tablet or Samsung Galaxy for kids – Reviews here and here.
I hope this gives you some ideas, believe me I’m no expert myself and a lot of this is just trail and error and seeing what works best for you and your family. We’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject so please do get in touch either in the comments below or on social!