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 


  1. I am inclined to go with your view. A separate iPad to a 5 year old is too much for me, personally speaking. But, I'm definitely OK with moderation.
    And, sorry..I've no clue about Apps :-)

  2. I agree with your take....separate gadget for a 5 year old would have been too much but in the meantime he should not be kept aloof from the wonderful world of technology though :)

  3. I would go with you on this... we have had a Samsung tab for close two years now and the little one is an expert on it.. she has her apps - jigsaw puzzles, coloring, read-to-me stories and some games. Initially, I had to ration time out each day time on the tab worked as an incentive. Today... she barely looks at it and would rather be downstairs with the neighborhood children playing. The novelty factor will wear out in some time. A separate iPad, I wouldn't go for that though...

  4. I enjoyed reading this post and I do get your view and I agree that ultimately its the parenting philosophy that plays a big role in these decisions. Like you've mentioned, moderation in parenting is a key pillar. I have a Samsung tab and I allow my 7 year old son to use it moderately and he uses it for short period to play games that are not violent. But I have observed that after a point, kids aren't keen to stay glued to it because they would rather go out and play football with friends or do some hands-on activity instead. We can utilize technology to empower our kids but not to enslave them. So again, we come back your most important point of exercising moderation.

  5. In your place, I would buy one for myself, and let him "share" it ;). But seriously, I think you made the right decision, absolutely agree with the points you have made here.

  6. I am still struggling with my 2 year old and trying to keep her away from everything electronic!
    I d like to keep it that way for as long as possible. I dont see her lacking in any way till now. But maybe in a few years, I will change my stance. I understand that older kids do need these gadgets probably cause the world today is all about technology!

  7. I have seen kids learn math on ipad and it was interesting but the fact that my 2 year old niece also wants her share of the ipad is disturbing.