Monday, March 25, 2013

2 years ago in Israel!

In the same month, 2 years ago, some of the things I was doing....

Checking out pickled quail eggs, baby shrimp and pickled cashews!

The Gold Menorah en route the Western Wall

Contemplating on the cat that moves freely across religious divides and man made walls

Observing the sadness of an Orthodox Jew who wished he could visit the Dome of the Rock

Marveling at the beauty of the Golden Dome - I will return!

Entering Masada 

Kosher McD

Creation of the State of Israel

Bonding with my darling Travel Partner!

Being drawn to Palestine

Sharing a smile with a Palestinian beauty

Floating alive! - Dead Sea of course :)

Waiting for the yummiest Kunafeh to be served in Palestine

Jordan in the distance, Dead Sea in between 

Goodbye Israel, Shalom Aleichem & Salaam Aleikum!

To read more about my travel with a friend, sans family, check out my earlier posts. You can start with my airport story.

Monday, March 04, 2013

iPad Mini - To do or Not to do

On my FB page I had posted an entry last week. "My son wants an iPad Mini for his 5th b'day. To do or not to do?". The range of answers reflected the wide spectrum of parenting styles in our society today amongst the SEC A+ demographic segment. The opinions broadly can be classified as -

Far Left: Absolutely not in favor of iPad Mini. Arguments in favor of child playing in the garden, learning to amuse himself and growing up fine without any gadget were the top runners. Sentiments ranging from letting the kid be, and showing the beauty of nature to the children and teaching them to observe and adapt to the environment were top runners. 

Some others made the point of not giving in to 'instant gratification' and letting the kid be 'influenced' by characters or improbable situations were on top of the list. Some mothers agreed that letting the child buy as many 'game' related toys - racquets, skate boards were okay and even encouraged. Books and craft activities were promoted as instruments to fire up the child's imagination and creativity. 

Some veered so far left that they do not even believe in b'day presents and buy essentials as a b'day gift simply because the child 'needs' it vs. 'wants' it. 

Far Right: Absolutely in favor. Kids today are living in a fast-paced, gadget-led wired world. The earlier the exposure, the better. Children need to know how to operate technological marvels. 

Some of the apps promote learning in an easy, engaging and interactive manner, say, as opposed to a book, which is a one-way medium. Given today's working women scenario, it helps the mommy to get some down-time or me-time, while the child is gainfully engaged. 

Gadgets like wii promote physical sport too. And the iPad lets the child explore worlds far different from his current surroundings and learn from them. It also sets the ground for being independent and figure out things by oneself. It puts children on-par with kids learning in Western environments and if the parent can afford it, then why not? 
Forward from Friend

My take: Moderation Moderation Moderation is the name of the parenting game!

1. Physical time:  It is true that children today prefer sitting at home watching TV or doing 'nothing' or playing with gadgets. Going to the park or running around is difficult for children living in independent houses or complexes with no designated play area. Even complexes with a specified play area usually does not cater to children aged 5 - 8. For older kids, organized sports activities are sometimes available, sometimes not. Point is, all of these lead the child to the television or iPad or wii or some such device.  Then why not make it productive? Of course, if physical activity is a priority (and it should be) take the kids to a park or engage them in a sport. 

2. Supervision: Yes, some of the apps are violent and not for children. Yes, kids today are more easily 'bored' than  ever before. Yes, the influence of characters ranging from Barbie to McQueen to Chota Bheem cannot be refuted and an iPad does promote further devotion to the characters. Parents must be the arbitrators here. It is part of the growing up process to push the boundaries all the time and as much a part of parental protocol to firmly establish and stick to the boundaries. At all times. As far as giving an iPad to a child is concerned, parental supervision is a good idea. Especially since kids can easily be led astray. Parental locks are available, as are physical locks & cupboards to keep away the iPad. Yes, children will discover porn and violence... but why not postpone it for as long as possible? 

3. Social Skills: Socializing is an individual trait. Kids with iPads are not necessarily asocial nor are park-playing kids social and polite. Its all in the upbringing. Exposure to social situations is also key to establishing these traits. And most importantly, the personality of the child and the role-model parent that they wish to emulate are all key to getting social conversational skills in place. 

4. Technology or Not: I say why not? If a child can paint well, we would not hesitate to buy paints right? Similarly, letting a kid explore their creativity via a different medium is good. Takes away the fear of technology at a young age. And certainly is a face-saver in a multi-kid meltdown scenario :) 

Ultimately its the parenting philosophy that plays a big role in these decisions. I was influenced by the far-left comments enough to decide that an iPad Mini separately for Button is a big no-no at age 5. Maybe when he turns 10. But I am 'right'-enough to continue giving him my iPad with specific age appropriate apps and videos. In fact, this b'day I am planning to set aside a budget of 1000 bucks to download 5 - 6 apps of his choice (Maths, Astronomy, Phonetics, Mazes / Logic, a 'Superman' based app and whatever else in that budget). 

What is your opinion on this issue? Would you give your child the iPad or iPad Mini? 

More importantly, do you have app recommendations for Button? :P