I was out somewhere recently and watched a 10 year old have a meltdown of epic proportions because his mom had forgot to bring his iPad so he could play his game. When I say epic proportions, I mean EPIC!! I don’t think my kids ever had a tantrum like that even as toddlers. Another child I saw one day (who was 7), was asking for an iPod for her birthday. Other children I’ve met EACH have an iPad. So these instances got me to thinking – are we all so connected to technology now, that kids don’t know how to entertain themselves if it’s not there with them? Now granted, I didn’t know this child at all, this is just what I observed while in the same room with him for a brief time. And it’s entirely possible that he has a “diagnosis” of something. But I still had a hard time believing that this tantrum was all because his mom forgot the iPad.
Then I got to thinking about my children and our family, and how we interact with technology. We as a family don’t have an iPad or tablet of any kind. Yes you did read that right – we don’t own one. There are times when I think that we must be the only family without one. We only have one computer in the house – and it’s not used for gaming (well with the exception of my husband who plays a game from HIS childhood on it). My kids only started playing on our Wii in the fall (my kids are 3 and 6). AND when they play, they have a limited amount of time that they are allowed to play. They DO have hand held games from V-Tech, but that’s it. When we go out somewhere where we need to wait, my kids usually take books or toys with them. And by books I mean actual paper books – not a kobo or whatever other e-reader. And it’s THEIR responsibility to choose what they want to bring. If they forget it – that’s too bad.
I know that the world has changed since I was a kid – (it was a BIG deal when we got a computer just before I started high school. Don’t even start me on the internet – I’m old enough to have used dial up so you could only be on the internet for short period of time so you wouldn’t miss any calls), but do children really need their own iPads? I know that there are lots of educational apps out there that they can use, but does my 3 year old REALLY need her own iPad? My answer is no. If we had one, then for sure they could use it SOMETIMES, but they wouldn’t be using it all the time. My kids play outside, play with their toys, draw, colour, paint and read from an actual book. I don’t want them to only know how to do things through technology.
Perhaps in a few years, we will “help” our kids purchase their own devices. But for now, my kids don’t need their own. And quite frankly, I’m not getting one for my 3-year old before I get one for myself.