What did you do for fun when you were a young child? Play with blocks? Make up backstories for your crayons, shampoo bottles and toilet paper tubes and send them on little adventures?
Well, these days, kids have got way more interesting things constantly competing for their attention than just wooden blocks and empty shampoo bottles. With the explosive popularity of laptops, smartphones, and tablets among adults, it’s no wonder our little ones are itching to use our electronic devices.
The good news is, just like the invention of TV didn’t turn an entire generation into an army of slack-jawed, mush-brained idiots with the attention span of a gnat as it was predicted to do, letting your child use your tablet isn’t going to poison her mind. In fact, tablets can make wonderful teaching tools for kids. That said, there are some guidelines you should follow when deciding when and how to introduce your child to a tablet.
Don’t start too early
Experts suggest giving your child a little time to develop cognitively before introducing them to a tablet.
Dr. Carolyn Jaynes told PBS that, “Children under two years of age learn best from real-world experiences and interactions, and each minute spent in front of a screen-based device is a minute when your child is not exploring the world and using their senses, which is extremely important in their development process.”
Keep track of the time
Once they’re a toddler, a reasonable amount of supervised tablet time can be entertaining and educational for your kid. You don’t want them on it all day, though.
“I would recommend no more than a half an hour per sitting for a four to five year old, no more than an hour per sitting for a six to seven year old,” says Jeannie Galindo, supervisor of instructional technology for the Manatee County School District in Florida.
Use it as a teaching tool
Yes, there will be times when plunking your kid down with a tablet playing their favorite TV shows will be the easiest way to keep them quiet and keep yourself sane. But for the most part, your child’s interactions with a tablet should be supervised and educational. Try downloading some educational apps or books to read with your kid, or teaching him some amateur photography skills. You might be surprised at the fun you can have together!