Setting Boundaries for Kids Using the iPad

First,  there was the iPhone/iPod touch that you saw kids in New York City playing with when going to restaurants now it’s the iPad. In this morning’s New York Post (yes, I read the Post,) there is an article about how the iPad is the hottest new babysitter.

Does this surprise me, No. My daughter glombed onto my iPhone the minute I got it and started downloading game apps almost immediately. Scary, right. Trust me, she knows that phone better than I do.

Well that is what happened with my iPad as well. I am not so obnoxious as the dad quoted in the article about his kid having more of an advantage than the kid who gets a computer at 5 or 7. Frankly, his quote was just a tad elitist. If this product had come out when my daughter was two or three, there is no way in hell, I would let her play with it. That’s nuts.

I got the iPad because frankly Apple (damn you) does not make a notebook style computer and I did not want to lug my laptop all over the place so the iPad was the next best thing plus it’s a book reader (okay, I haven’t downloaded any books yet) and plays movies/tv shows.

So back to our family. Do we take it dinner with us? Yes and no. I only take it when I am having dinner with adults, sounds ridiculousI know but at some point I can only expect my daughter to be engaged in our conversation before she is ready to go. You could argue that she should be able to sit and listen but if you were at a table with boring people, I am pretty sure you would be rushing the waiter to get the check so you could book it. Should a seven year old be made to sit quietly for the last 30 minutes of a meal after happily doing so for an hour. I think not.

Do I bring it on dinner playdates? NO. I have had friends who let their kids bring their DS and it annoys me as it guarantees the kids will not engage during dinner. Isn’t that why we had a dinner playdate?

But like all electronics, and television viewing, it’s all about boundaries with my iPad. Here are the rules and my daughter knows them by heart.

  • No iPad during the week and only on the weekends
  • At dinner dates if it’s an adults only meal, not with kids
  • Loses playing privileges for misbehaving
  • Only allowed to download FREE games and only if she asks – no upgrades and sorry Angry Birds, not happening
  • And finally when it comes to reading on the iPad, I am pretty selective. I only will allow it again with adults only dinners,  on trains or if we are traveling. Call me old school but I prefer that she reads actual paper books at home. I love my iPad but there is something about turning pages that is so delightful and an experience that should not be eliminated from our children’s life so quickly. Yes, some of the books on the iPad are cool with all their interactivityness(I know it’s not a word) and  HDness but  please let’s not stamp out their using their imagination by coming up with images from the printed word.

I loved to hear your thoughts on the use of latest electronic gadgets and kids.

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