It’s official: The holiday season is upon us. As usual, there’s a hot gift. But I don’t ever recall witnessing that gift divide so many households, experts and parents, kids and their parents and parents themselves.
Is this the year to get the kid an iPad?
Whether Santa or his parental minions will deliver it is another matter. That debate has many variables. A few of them: a child’s age, aptitude with computers and trustworthiness; a parent’s disposable income and attitude toward toward electronic media.
The American Academy of Pediatrics’ screen time recommendations loom like Scrooge over many kids’ wish lists.
The AAP warns that “excessive media use can lead to attention problems, school difficulties, sleep and eating disorders, and obesity. In addition, the Internet and cell phones can provide platforms for illicit and risky behaviors.”
The other side of this modern coin is anxiety over lack of screen time. “I’m worried she’ll be the only one in her class who doesn’t know how to use a computer,”a friend of mine recently confided. She and her husband had endured well without any gadgets and were happy to save the money, but for their daughter they are contemplating making the purchase so she won’t fall behind her peers.
Their daughter is 3.
Which brings up the age question.
“In a supervised environment, children as young as four or five are able to engage in learning activities using smartphones and tablets of all kinds. In an unsupervised environment, I wouldn’t recommend a smartphone or tablet purchase for a child until at least between the ages of 11 and 13,” one expert told PBS.org.
To many families, that guidance is as unrealistic as the AAP advice. The point of the tablets, after all, may be that the parents can check out for a few minutes while their child is entertained by an at least marginally educational app.
Companies are flooding the market with what was assumed to be the holiday compromise for parents, a kids tablet. These are less expensive, more durable versions that have limited abilities and parental controls. Early indications do not suggest, however, that this is the magic solution.
Neilsen found that of those 6-12 year-olds, “approximately half the children surveyed expressed interest in the full-sized iPad (up from 44 percent last year), and 36 percent in the new iPad Mini.”
In other words, they do not want a kids-designed tablet. They want the real thing.
Are you planning on buying a tablet for a child? What are your thoughts on kids and the new electronic devices?