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Kids and iPads/iPhones: Where do you stand?

Categories: Parenting & Family

8 comments

How much time do your kids get with an iPad/iPhone/computer?

Lately I find myself having this conversation a lot with friends and other moms at my daughter’s school. Everyone seems to be wondering what’s enough, what’s too much, and how everyone else is dealing with preventing the wave of technology from completely overtaking their homes and kids’ minds. And like every parenting decision, it’s not easy and not black and white.

I have spent the last ten years of my career working in technology and I am big enough to admit that yes, I am quite inseparable from my iPhone. A lot of it is for work but a lot of it is for things outside of work: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and a bunch of other time-takers. We have an iPad at home and a laptop in the office. My husband and I often spend the evenings sitting next to each other working on our respective work laptops.

Do I like that technology is such a huge part of our life? Absolutely not. I think there are ways in which it is bad for our family. We try to be as disciplined as we can - no phones when we are eating, no background TV, etc. - but we’re absolutely not perfect. It is a core part of our daily lives and while we can blame it on work, the reality is that that’s not the only reason we’re attached to our gadgets.

You can, I guess, call me a hypocrite, because when it comes to my daughter I have taken an extremely firm stance on the amount of iPhone/iPad/computer time she has. She is allowed to play a few kid games on my phone when we are waiting for something. Computer is only to look up something she needs for a school project or to do some math or reading stuff (there are special websites her school uses). She plays a few games on the iPad, but maybe for 20 minutes a week, tops. And I refuse to download stuff like Angry Birds even though she is talking my ear about it.

Here’s what I figure: She is going to live with all these gadgets and technology as a core part of her life, for the rest of her life. So for as long as I can limit it, I will.

This is becoming harder and harder as many of her friends get a lot more time with gadgets. It’s become routine for her to come back from a playdate and ask why so and so can have her own iPad and she can’t. She asks me to download games and apps I’ve never heard of almost every week (sometimes I do, most of the time I don’t.) I know this is an uphill battle.

What about you and your kids: How much time do they get with all the various technology gadgets? Do you have strict limits or think that they are fine as long as your kids are playing games that are appropriate?



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8 comments so far...

  • I have a preschool son who LOVES the iPad. It amazes me what he is able to do/learn with it and I never hesitate to let him have time with it. I use it as a bargaining tool to have him do chores and he has a daily time limit. But, I also realize that his generation will be using this sort of tool to read textbooks from, do homework from, etc so I might as well let him get comfortable with it.
    His favorite app? ESPN sportscenter… He knows all the teams logos for the NFL, college football/basketball/hockey, NBA, MLB etc… watches game matchups and scores. It drives us all nuts but he loves it!!

    blessedmom218  |  January 19th, 2012 at 2:38 pm

  • We have strict screentime rules in our house. There is no tv, computer, wii or ipad Sunday dinner through Friday after homework. On the weekends the boys get to play/do what they like on Saturday and Sunday mornings. The only exception to this rule is the spelling and math games we do as part of homework. The spelling app helps with the weekly words/tests the boys have. The weekday time is maybe 10 minutes a night and not every night.

    When they are in front of a screen we have rules about what they can watch and play. We have disconneted the wifi on the ipad so there is no youtube watching or attempts to purchase apps. We do let them play angry birds. They love chess and other puzzle games. None of the wii games we have are violent.

    I don’t know that there is a right answer with any of this. For now this is working, but at 7 and 5 there is only a small need for connection to the outside world. My second grader isn’t doing massive research papers or anything that would need huge access. I know this will all change and change soon. We plan to know what they are doing and when. (I say that like a true non-experienced mom in this area - I know reality will likely be different than my current plans). Staying firm with our rules has really helped us. Playing the games with the boys also makes it fun and more of a family thing.

    KLG  |  January 20th, 2012 at 2:18 pm

  • I am not quite in that stage of life yet with my kid, but I have definitely have thought about it as I see my friends kids with them. Bottom line, I don’ t know yet. My husband and I are similar in that we both work online, A LOT. We actually did buy my kid a toy, real life looking laptop in hopes that he would leave ours alone. He is definitely attracted to technology, he could unlock my husbands phone at one year old. But my husband and I grew up in a different life, playing outside and we want him to have that. Although we are a ways out from getting a phone or something, I think I will definitely try to raise him with the thought that less is better.

    Gina  |  January 21st, 2012 at 11:06 pm

  • My thought is: it takes seconds or minutes to learn most of today’s tech apps, whether they are on the computer, ipad, ipod, iphone, whatever. It’s not like kids need years of practice in order to compete in the big bad world when it comes to these things (especially considering that they become obsolete and are replaced so quickly).

    On the other hand, the time our kids spend on reading, writing, math, science exploration, music, problem-solving, etc. benefits them on a minute-per-minute basis. And also, we know that “screen stuff,” while it may appear to encourage concentration, actually contributes to a short attention span for the stuff that really requires patience and deep thought.

    So my position is: less is more. Screen time comes last, after school, homework, extracurriculars, the museum, the park, self-care, chores, etc. As a result, my kids don’t get a lot of time with screens. We don’t watch TV and they have very little time with a grown-up computer. They each have an ipod and a DS, but they don’t get time to play with them every day. (Even if they did, they still usually prefer their hands-on toys at this point. I assume this is partly because they have never had screens competing with hands-on play until very recently.)

    SKL  |  January 22nd, 2012 at 4:13 pm

  • I curtail both my son and my daughter use of the iPad and lean more towards tactile form of play and entertain, but I have to say that iPhones and iPad do come in handy, when they have no other toys around. And there are some great educational and artsy apps out there for children. My son especially love the Krink app, if I let him he would spend hours on the floor doodling.

    http://itunes.apple.com/app/krink/id483512104

    Sally  |  January 25th, 2012 at 8:07 am

  • We have 5 children. My husband and I have decided that we will purchase a phone for each of them on their 12th birthday. If the children want an ipad, they have the opportunity to purchase it with the money that they have saved. We don’t have strict limits yet, but during walks, family night and dinner, the phones must not be utilized.

    Krystal  |  January 26th, 2012 at 6:25 pm

  • I am sitting here typing left handed holding my four month old daughter. She is almost in front of this computer as much as I am. I think it is very important to set time limits for your children for any kind of screen time. I try really hard to follow the American Pediatrics guidelines of no more than two hours a day for children under 3. The IPad is where my son spends most of his time especially when we are at the drs office or driving to my in laws (3 hours away). I think finding a balance is really important.

    Rebecca  |  March 10th, 2012 at 2:21 pm

  • My kids love my ipad too! I will say that I prefer to give them my ipad with MyPadBuddy on it. Spilled juice, food, sticky fingers…no problem. Touch screen work right through the case Only $9.98 on Amazon. Best investment I made for my ipad.

    don schiavetta  |  April 10th, 2012 at 9:32 pm

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