Should Your Toddler Be Using a Tablet?

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Much hand-wringing and head-shaking have come to pass when it comes to kids using the iPad, or any other tablet device for that matter. There are as many opinions as there are parents, and with the gadget still at its infancy, we are bound to hear more about its merits and demerits from hereon. Ines Bautista Yao, author and mom of two, shares, “My eldest daughter was already playing with my husband’s early generation iPhone when she was a toddler. Back then, there were no iPads yet and the iPhone was still new. She loved it and played with really simple games such as animal and machine sounds. But now that the iPad games have gotten more sophisticated, I think I will wait till my four-month-old is a lot older before allowing her some iPad time.”

Rowie Juan Matti, an educator and mom of two, observes, “We see a lot of children as young as one playing with an iPad. This is how parents and nannies keep them busy and quiet while waiting for their turn to see the doctor, while waiting for their food to be served in a restaurant, while on the road going to their next destination, and even while hearing mass!”

Matti believes that exposing children less than a year old to these devices is not such a good idea. She says, “Children at one year old should be allowed to experience the world, talk to people, touch, feel, and taste things around them. This is a time to develop all their senses. They should be allowed to play with manipulatives, and use pencils to be able to write. They should be allowed to run, climb, and fall to be able to develop skills like walking and running. They should be allowed to interact with adults and other children to develop their speaking and listening skills.”

Most moms would agree with Matti. But you’ve got to admit that the iPad offers a lot of advantages.

Treena Cueva Tecson, marketing executive and mom of two, says, “My kids have iPads and they play educational games. It makes learning fun and exciting. The key is have the kids play with their gadgets in moderation so they will also be encouraged to read books and play outdoors.”

Frances Amper Sales agrees: “Everything in moderation!”

A blogger and mom of two, Sales says, “I know iPads have been getting a lot of flak but it’s really a parenting issue. You’re the parent, you control the use. Our iPads have helped me a lot in keeping my toddler occupied while I do chores around the house. It’s helped him learn about language and math on his own. I just make sure there’s educational and entertaining apps for him, and my son also knows that he has a time limit. We’ve never had a problem with the iPads as a result. No tantrums, no behavioral problems, no mental or physical delays. He also seems to be smarter and more tech-savvy than the non-techie kids, something that’s really important in this highly technological age.”

Yes, just as parents of a generation ago controlled their children’s TV viewing time, parents of this generation are taking steps to manage their kids’ gadget time.

As Yao says, “As much as I can, I want my daughters to have more play time with me and with each other. I want to lessen the use of gadgets in my home. I want all of us to appreciate human interaction more than virtual interaction. I will not keep the iPad from them because that will just make it that much more of a thrill but I will make sure there are more exciting activities elsewhere. I know I've got a tough job ahead! But I really believe that living face to face and not buried in a gadget makes for happier children and happier parents. Wish me luck!”