Gone are the days of children enjoying a game of make believe outside with the neighbor kids. It’s now all about Angry Birds and getting to the next level before bedtime. And, millennial parents are the ones fueling the fire. In fact, a 2013 PBS Kids study found that out of 1000 parents between the ages of 18 and 34, 59 percent planned on buying their child a tech gadget during the holiday season. At the top of the list? Tablets.
Traditional Playtime Now Comes in App Form
Remember the countless hours you would spend creating buildings out of Lego blocks? Well, there’s now an app for that. Apps like Lego Juniors Create and Cruise let children create their own vehicles and mini-figures with virtual blocks. It’s a strange sensation to watch your child play with a toy you once loved directly on a tablet. However, it’s probably best to succumb to the idea that times are changing. Kids can now play some of our favorite games while on-the-go. Let’s be honest—we would have totally loved that as children. Plus, in the Lego Juniors Create and Cruise app, the fun of playing with Lego blocks is improved with imaginative in-game play scenarios that enhance a child’s creativity. These fun to play apps have allowed tablets to construct a virtual playground that successfully combines education with entertainment.
To Tablet, or Not to Tablet?
As a parent, the last thing you want to do is to stunt your child’s mental development. Some think that tablets are improving our children’s cognitive skills while others, like the American Academy of Pediatrics, warn about the dangers of too much screen-time. The organization argues that excessive exposure to electronic devices can lead to attention problems, school difficulties, sleep and eating disorders and obesity.
As the first generation of parents to deal with this tech trend, the uncertainty can be overwhelming. Help your child avoid possible consequences of too much tablet-time by limiting it to 10 or 15 minutes per day. Also, establish “media free” times, where everyone, including parents are required to put their devices down—especially during meal times. One thing we can all agree on is that tablet computers are a beneficial teaching tools when used in moderation.
Share Tablet Time
Due to the increase in technology usage among our younger population, our tech toys are no longer ours. It is common for parents to share tablets with their little ones. Only 8 percent of children ages five to seven have their own tablet device, according to an Ofcom study on children and parents media use. The rest of the children share a tablet with a parent or sibling.
Sharing is caring, but if you’re constantly worried your child is going to drop that $800 iPad, consider getting a tablet protection plan that covers cracked screens, water damage and mechanical breakdowns. The last thing you want is to lose important data you’ve saved on your shared tablet because your tyke got too carried away playing Candy Crush.