I write a monthly column over at AlliOSNews. It’s a techie site – extolling all the goodies and gunpowder on the Apple OS. (SHINY TOY!) I’m TechMom. And these are my stories on how technology is really used. This is what you must deal with as I am a Silicon Valley nerd by day.
(I’m well aware it’s Friday. If you want TechMom Tuesday on Tuesdays, head on over to AlliOSNews for all things Apple. TechMom Tuesday is typically published the first Tuesday of every month. I reserve the right to rant more or less as the technical goings-on, well…go on. This month it’s late because I was off celebrating America’s Independence Day the first week, and then my editor was on vacation the next.)
The TechTots and I took advantage of the long weekend to travel down to see their grandparents. Canvassing the great state of California is a six-hour drive – which translates to eleventy bajillion hours for a toddler strapped into a car seat.
And so, it is with a slightly bowed head of shame that I admit this to you – I have become *that* mom. The TechTots each received an iPad mini.
This was not a spur of the moment decision. My husband and I discussed the pros and cons. Aren’t they a little young? Do they really need one? Respective answers: Yes and no.
Then we consulted my mother, a retired school superintendent and years of being a speech and language pathologist. iPads are all the rage in preschools these days. Given their newness, the jury is still very much out on how all this technology is affecting young minds.
People are very much, um…enthusiastic, about their opinions on this subject. So – I offer mine, and mine alone, along with my reasoning.
The iPad, or any other tablet/technical device, is merely a tool. It is the applications one chooses to download that are ultimately what any 3-year-old is experiencing. Our boys have long played with my iPad – and enjoy games like Wheels on the Bus and Monkey Lunchbox, a cartoonish game meant to develop skills like color identification and matching.
Current recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics advice no screen time before age 2, due to developing brains. The muppets did not watch any TV before this time; they do watch the occasional Mickey Mouse Clubhouse or baseball game these days. Yet, the iPad games require the child to do so much more than simply stare in a comatose-like zone. The boys are required to listen and engage in order to continue with the driving tasks. I take great pleasure in sitting with my children, discussing the problems presented and watching them decipher age-appropriate puzzles.
(Note: this post doesn’t cover the benefits of allowing non-verbal children to communicate more effectively. So many interactive iOS uses!)
I don’t know about you, but no matter how many physical activities I engage in (chasing TechTots) or culturally stimulating exposures (San Jose Tech Museum), there are still some nights where you just want to sit back and relax. The TechTots enjoy playing these games; like anything in moderation, I am happy to reward my children.
Also – only big boys who pee-pee in the potty play with iPads. A potty training insight you were dying to know…
As I mentioned earlier, the iPad is merely a tool. Apps can be downloaded and updated as necessary as the boys grow. They can read iBooks as they discover literature. Of course I realize technology continues to evolve and change. But given the current uses by the intended audience, I’m betting that we’ll have at least three to four years – to elementary school – before it requires replacing.
I won’t lie. There are definitely times that the iPad is a selfish distraction for me. None the least of which is making a six-hour drive alone with three-year-olds who have just learned the phrase, “Are we there yet?”
Ultimately, I believe the success or detriment of these types of technologies lie directly with the parenting methods employed. Just as no child should be set in front of a TV to serve as a long-term nanny, no wee one should be handed an iPad and left to their own devices. (Pun totally intended.)
The TechTots love their iPad minis, ensconced in freestanding colorful foam iGuy cases by Speck that protects the precious technology without removing any of the functionality. The devices are in full lock-down mode, so that any alterations are the sole decision of mom or dad.
Time with their iDevices is rationed. But as technology evolves to assist my life as a TechMom (or even to be a TechMom), I also look for the ways it can enrich my TechTots.