This is a conversation I have a lot with moms. They wonder how much of things like the iPad and other gadgets are good for their babies, and if it’s even possible to keep your little one away from technology altogether. There are those that fear exposing their baby’s still growing mind to tech early, could in some way hinder their growth, while other’s worry that keeping their baby away from technology will have their child dropping behind.
I mean, I personally know two-year-olds that can turn phone’s from ringing to silent, know how to unlock iPads and navigate the apps with little effort, and for some parents who see how much technological skills it takes to progress in the world nowadays, it is a glowing talking point for them.
My view on this is, anything in moderation is okay. I think those who push too much, either way, don’t realize how hard it is for some moms. We don’t know everyone’s situation, and for a lot of moms, they are battling more than just motherhood. There are those working and struggling to deal with all the stress that goes along with that, there are those that are battling emotional and mental hurdles. For a lot of parents, the idea of just ten undisturbed minutes is a dream, and one worth faltering when it comes to those ideals.
Apple products seem to be taking over. There isn’t an infant of a grandma who isn’t carrying around an iPad to check The Facebook or watch YouTube videos. Naturally, when I got pregnant I looked at my husband and had the audacity to tell him that there was absolutely no way our child would be one of those kids addicted to the iPad.
Alright, guys, I am going to admit something big to you here. My daughter (gasps audibly, touches the back of her hand to her forehead and throws herself back dramatically) has iPad time. Now, what does that mean? She is 8 months old. How could she possibly be using the iPad?
Well, in the mornings when I am wishing I had more sleep, wondering how my boob fell out of my bra during the night, wiping crusts out of the corner of my eye, and zombie-walking towards the coffee maker, I open up the Amazon Prime app on my iPad and put on a Super Simple Song episode for her. What is that? I’ll tell you what it is. It’s about 45 minutes of Nursery Rhymes, Shapes, Colours, Alphabet, and Number songs that keep her busy long enough for me to at least attempt at getting my shit together in the morning.
For all those people gasping and pointing a for shame finger in my direction, I have a finger I can point at you as well, so let’s not get nasty.
I have said this once, and I will probably say this a million more times in my life; Parenting is hard! Sometimes we need just a little bit of time to ourselves, and for those people out there who think it’s simple to put a baby in front of a toy or activity and have them stay put without wailing, then they obviously aren’t parents.
My daughter and I have constant play time. We spend hours on the floor together with her toys and her books, we do lots of things to try and keep her engaged and work her mind. However, parenting constantly with no breaks to be a human being is extremely taxing on your mind and if you do that every single day without any time for yourself, you are barrelling towards a mental breakdown.
So, despite all I said when I was pregnant, my daughter watched the iPad when I need a moment to myself at home, or in the car (I have prayed to deities I don’t even believe in for a moment’s peace in the car while I am stuck in traffic and my daughter is screaming at the top of her lungs because apparently, the car seat is her nemesis).
Now, I do think that if you constantly hand your child the iPad during the day instead of attempting other ways to engage them and that time on devices is steadily piling up, that you should consider unplugging. I think an hour or two a day on any device is plenty and you shouldn’t constantly co-parent with technology. That being said, moderation is key.
I would also look into certain products or put devices out of reach if you have a little one that isn’t old enough to operate the technology on their own. I learned this the hard way when I was stuck in traffic, put the iPad in the back seat so she could watch The Greatest Showman and calm down a bit, only to get home and check my email. It was then I realized that, while touching the iPad the way she always does, she purchased over $50 in iBooks.
I am currently reading a bunch of them because the helpline is not as helpful as you would have hoped and I am now stuck with all these books.
Personally I would start taking devices away when you can see it’s becoming a problem for your child, and try to keep them off of YouTube as it seems like every kid that goes on there becomes a zombie unable to function while their videos are playing. Put some games on there that can help with their problem solving and development, reading or colouring apps are great for helping their focus.
If your child doesn’t give you clear responses when you are speaking to them and they are on the iPad, don’t just laugh it off. It’s not cute and you are allowing them to develop bad habits that will only get worse over time. Make sure their attention whenever you are speaking to them is completely on you, whether they are watching TV, on the iPad or even just playing.
Limit the amount of time they use devices and use other activities as a first priority before any electronics.
It’s good for your child to unplug several hours before bedtime to give them an opportunity to wind down. I’ve read several articles about the blue light in device screens disrupting their sleep patterns if they are used too close to bedtime.
So yes, it’s completely possible to raise your kids with technology, just so long as you keep in mind that all technology connects to the internet these days, and anything that connects to the internet, in regards to your child, should always be closely monitored and used in moderation.
Like anything in parenting, find your balance and do what’s best for your family. There is no cookie-cutter solution.