I have a love/hate relationship when it comes to my iPad and the amount of time I allow my children to play with it during any given day. I’ll admit that the tablet is a great, quick distraction for my kids when I need to get something done without interruption: for example, getting a blog post done, taking an important phone call or finishing up dinner in the kitchen. My children are 5 and 3, and being a full-time work at home mother, I don’t have all the energy in the world to entertain them every hour of the day.
The problem though is that when I give them the iPad, they expect to sit down and play with their apps for hours. Once their allotted time of 20 or 30 minutes is up, my older one does this thing where she throws a fit, begs, screams and pleas for mercy just to have “five more minutes” with it. I never give in and the scene sometimes gets ugly. So while I appreciate the time I get while the kids play with the iPad, I hate feeling like I’m playing a game of tug-of-war when my kids when it’s time to turn it off.
Are kids becoming addicted to technology? Maybe. A recent report out of Great Britain suggests that children as young as the age of 4 are already seeking therapy for their iPad addictions. Experts are warning parents who allow their children to access tablet computers that they are in danger of causing dangerous long-term effects.
So far, there is a 4-year-old patient out of the UK that is being treated for her iPad addiction. Her parents enrolled her for compulsive behaviour therapy after she became increasingly “distressed and inconsolable” when the iPad was taken away from her.
Scary, I know.
The only problem though is that no matter how much we try to limit the access our children have to today’s technology, they are going to end up growing with it anyway. Many schools across the country are substituting traditional classbooks for student tablets instead and we live in an era where the smart device such as the iPhone, iPod, iPad and so forth are becoming part of our iLife.
So, what is a parent to do? A recent survey says that half of parents in the UK allow their babies an allotted amount of screen time per week. And while I’ll admit that the iPad will remain a fixture in our home (and especially on the road when we travel), limitations are obviously the key. Thirty minutes of Disney or PBS kids won’t harm my child and will at the same time allow me to get my chores done. The rest of our afternoon we can of course spend outdoors, where we should be.