Should I give my kids a tablet? Everyone has a cell phone it seems. Not only a cell phone, but a tablet, laptop, Fitbit, and it seems a dozen other devices. I rarely go anywhere without my cell phone and feel lost if I forget it on the charger at home. I’m much more likely to forget my purse than my phone (how sad is that!) It seems I’m not alone. I spoke with an employee at a cell phone repair company the other day and she told me that if she tells a customer that the wait will be 45 minutes, that person will more than likely decide to come back rather than being without their phone for 45 minutes. Really?
So now that my kids are school-aged, I’ve begun the debate of whether or not they need a cell phone or tablet. So far I’ve said yes to the tablet, but feel they are too young for a cell phone (and likely will be for a long time to come).
Whether I’m in the grocery store or at the airport, everywhere I turn there seems to be a child using a gadget. They’re on their parents’ phone (or maybe their own?) They have an iPad or some other tablet and they’re tapping away with their eyes glue to the screen. You hear the occasional giggle or shouts of frustration before they return to their quiet concentration. AND. I. LOVE. IT. I think kids’ learning how to master technology, especially at an early age is a good thing. The world is becoming increasingly digital and I don’t think that’s going away any time soon. I think that the benefits of technology far outweigh the drawbacks. Here are some reasons I’ve heard parents give for not giving their kids the keys to the technology kingdom.
Kids Will Get Addicted
Now this is definitely true. If your kids are having fun playing, that is all they are going to want to do. My kids are no exception. If I let them, I’m sure they’d play 24/7. And believe me they’ve tried. It’s up to me to make sure that the devices don’t take over their lives.
There are Bad Things/People That They Come In Contact With
Still very true and this is probably the one that makes me the most nervous. While I want to protect my children, I don’t want to shelter them to the point that they aren’t allowed to do anything. This is a chance to show them how to look out for things that might be inappropriate and to be comfortable talking to you if they see something suspicious. For me, if they play a game that has a chat feature, we have to all be in the same room, so that I can take a peek every now and then.
Kids Will Not Know How to be Social
I think the opposite happens. The games seem to make kids more social. They immediately have something in common with kids their age. I’ve seen kids asking each other about certain games and they immediately become the best of friends. Minecraft helped my son and daughter bond with their older cousin, despite the four year age gap.
Kids Will Not Know How to Entertain Themselves Without a Gadget in Hand
This could also be true. I struggle with this often. Sometimes if the kids are not entertained constantly, they will complain of being bored. As a matter of fact, if they say they’re bored, that makes me a little happy. I’ve quit my job as the entertainment director and so I know it’s up to them to find ways to have fun, most of the time without any electronics. Kids aren’t going to let themselves be bored for long. It’s one of the things that we like to take with us when we head for vacation. Definitely helps on long trips!
Kids Will No Longer Play Outside
I’m not sure about older kids, but for those in elementary school, when given the choice between the park and video games, the park wins every single time.
Technology’s place in our lives is so much different than it was when we were growing up. It seems to be a part of everything our children do, both at home and school. While I think there is definitely too much of a good thing, letting my kids have a gadget is going to bring much more good than harm as they get older.
What are your thoughts about cell phones and tablets? Do your kids have one? When do you think they are old enough?