I was surfing some e-commerce websites recently trying to look for some interesting games to keep my toddler occupied when I am working. I was specifically looking for something that she can play with by herself like a building block set or some kind of a musical toy which could perhaps pique her interest in music for good. My search took me to the section where they sell tablets for kids. The colourful little screens are sure to catch the attention of children. These are meant for kids from the age of 2 to 10.
I looked at those and then I looked at my toddler. She is already becoming a pro at using the iPad and my smartphone. It got me thinking, should I give her one more gadget on her approaching second birthday? Experts suggest that children should be introduced to any technological device after the age of 2. Before that, they should be learning from one-on-one interaction with their caregivers. Technology kind of provides only one side interaction and not two-way interface that only another human can provide.
Yet, it is also true that a child above the age of two and more stands to gain a lot in terms of verbal and motor skills from the games and apps online that are designed to do so. A friend’s daughter, two months younger to my girl, would watch nursery rhymes on YouTube all the time. Last year, anytime I would visit their place, the little girl, aged less than one year back then, would be standing in front of the TV watching Mothergoose Club videos. I would snicker and think how good a mother I am since I spend so much time with my daughter and haven’t introduced her to YouTube yet. The end result? She could recite nursery poems earlier than my girl! I know all babies have their own timeline to do things, but I think screen time on YouTube must have helped in some way.
So again, a tablet or no tablet?
Actually, like many other things in life, there is no specific answer to this one either. Our kids, as young as one-year olds, are getting so much screen time that’s not advisable for their age, but that’s not avoidable either. When it comes to the grown-ups, out of curiosity, necessity or even peer-pressure, they too want to own one of their own. Hence, if we can’t avoid a gadget, then we might as well buy them something that is educational in nature and not just entertaining. A tablet then comes across as the perfect gift for the children. There are some tablets that come with pre-installed apps in them, the others require apps to be installed. Some of them are android based so that if the kid is not using it, the parents can use the same like any regular tablet. If you plan to buy a tablet for your kid, make sure the list of apps or programs are all educational and informative. Some of them have the time out option, so that they don’t exceed the screen time you allot them. The good thing is that these tablets, for kids, can’t be operated without parental permission/supervision. They are handy, lightweight and easy to use. And, personally I feel we should wait till they outgrow their toddler years before they can be handed one.
Having said that, I still believe there is no substitute for one-on-one interaction. As a mother to a toddler, I try and keep my DD (darling daughter) away from YouTube by learning the rhymes on my own with actions and then teach her offline, personally. It’s a different thing that she hates me perform, and wants to see where I learnt it from, yet I will still stick to my decision of not giving my daughter a gadget of her own, till the time I can avoid that is. The day she starts taking her own little decisions (when she outgrows her toddler years), I will slowly start giving in, yet making sure (and hoping) she doesn’t replace time with me for technology.
About the Author
Having worked with some of the leading names in the publishing industry, Anu is now an independent editorial consultant. After working for over 11 years, she is now working from home to be able to look after her little girl. When she is not writing (her first love), she is happy cooking, reading and learning nursery rhymes, a new one everyday to keep her toddler entertained and of course taking family vacations.