Toddlers and technology, where do you stand?

Toddlers and technology, where do you stand?

When is the right age to introduce children to technology? Do we embrace the new and go with the flow or should we hold off as long as possible? It’s a subject that most parents have an opinion.

As a parent to older children I can see how technology can enrich the lives of the young. Be it helping to answer the barrage of questions they have by consulting Google, to keeping them safe when they’re out and about. But I’ve also seen how utterly annoying it can be, there’s the days when the sky is blue and instead of being out in the sun, climbing trees and playing out, they prefer to be glued to their xboxes or internet,  leading to various amounts of coercion & threat to prise them away.

The default wind down time in our house is no longer the TV, instead it’s playing GTA 5 with your mates online, messaging of Facebook or watching endless YouTube videos. There are times when everyone is sitting in the same room yet locked inside their own virtual world.

I hate those times the most.

But how do I enforce social family time while I myself, the blogging mum, spends so much time on my iPhone or the laptop.  There comes a point when “do as I say not as I do” doesn’t work. I argue that my time buried into the laptop is work, yet who’s to argue that it’s not as enriching for Tweens and Teenagers? They’re interacting, problem solving, using fine motor skills and even reading.  If play is child’s work, then can the same be said of screen time?

and how is that different to days gone by when we’d all sit down as a family and watch the TV?

Surely there’s more interaction going on now than there was back then? But what about toddlers and technology? At what age is it acceptable for a toddler to use an iPad?

It amazes me when I see them swiping and tapping away, playing games and watching movies like it’s the most natural thing ever, yet I’ve had to show my older relatives time and time again how to use their phone or a tablet, proving how a young child’s brain is like a sponge, soaking up the surroundings of every day activities going on around them, processing and mimicking as they role play what they see.

My own Baby R has a strange fascination with my iPhone. Most of the time he just sticks it in his mouth but recently I caught him looking at the screen and tapping like he knew what to do. And he should. I’m always using it to check emails, the weather or Twitter in front of him. My blog was created during all the hours I spent sat breastfeeding, restless to be doing something during the many feeding sessions. However hard I try not to let the internet world take precedence over my baby, there are occasions when I’ve had to answer emails before we’ve left the house or I’ve got a blog post idea I need to save before it disappears into the great unknown of Mum’s busy brain.

Is this a new era of technology where babies are born into a world knowing exactly what to do with an iPhone?

I’m ashamed to admit that in the past there were times when I’d see a toddler with an iPad in a restaurant and wonder why their parents hadn’t brought a book or weren’t making the most of the free crayons and then I had my own toddler. I now look longingly at the family sitting down, enjoying their meal without distraction as their little one sits happily glued to the screen while my husband and I play tag parenting, taking it in turns to pace the floor and entertain the boddler who’s too young for the distraction of Peppa Pig apps and CBeebies games, whilst eating our food at lightening speed and apologising profusely for all the mess as we settle our bill.

So is letting your toddler use technology cheating or embracing the future? Should screen time be saved for a time when their minds are less delicate? I’m still undecided.

I guess there comes a point when we have to accept that what we enjoyed as a child was fine for us in the past  but this is the here and now and new technology isn’t always the enemy. There’s a time and place for change and everything in moderation. But technology for toddlers, mmmm, I don’t know. That developing brain needs the interaction that only other humans and face to face can provide, so I’ll be delaying the distraction of the internet and TV for a little while yet, even if that means a few extra rounds of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star on every car journey and the indigestion laden, speed, eating meals.

As I know that once we go down that road there’s no going back.

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28 Comments

  1. 22nd June 2015 / 8:16 pm

    im one of ‘those parents’ who really doesnt like to see children glued to screens. i think technology has it’s place and it would be silly to try and ignore it altogether but i think it should be used sparingly. really sparingly. i dont understand introducing really young children to ipads, i just dont get it at all. my son watches some tv and plays on the laptop very occassionally. he is 5 and i want him to prefer being outdoors and playing ‘in the real world’ for as long as possible, there is plenty of time for technology when he is older. MUCH older!

    • 22nd June 2015 / 10:44 pm

      There most certainly is and I’m seeing that now with my older children. That’s why I’ve decided to keep him away for as long as I can. We don’t have the TV on at all during the day and I’m limiting the amount of time he sees me on my phone or laptop.

  2. 23rd June 2015 / 8:04 am

    I think that you are right about technology as far as toddlers are concerned, they don’t need it as there is still so much for them to discover in the real world. We don’t have a television and my daughter is very rarely allowed to play games on the iPad or phone. However, technology is part of our lives so now she is seven we probably need to start introducing her to technology so she doesn’t get left behind!

    • 23rd June 2015 / 1:16 pm

      That’s my point, you’ve caught it perfectly, technology is part of our lives and so I woder how much we embrace that or do we still try to hold onto the ‘old ways?’ I’m holding back for a few years but I do think it has a place, just in moderation.

  3. 23rd June 2015 / 11:24 am

    I agree it’s a tricky subject and every family will have their own way of doing things. Sometimes I wish that my little girl was at least a little interested in TV to buy me enough time to run the hoover round or wash up but I do love the fact that when we go out for lunch, she is still happy to eat her lunch in the highchair at the same time and chatter away to herself. Personally, I’ll be holding off on the technology for as long as I can, especially while she’s happy to play and crawl around by herself without needing technology to keep her entertained, because I’m sure there will come a time when it takes over!

  4. 23rd June 2015 / 11:28 am

    Sometimes I wish that my daughter was more interested in TV, just to buy me enough time to run the hoover around or wash up. I do, however, love the fact that when we go out for lunch she is perfectly happy to eat at the same time and chatter away in the high chair with no need for technology or toys. I want to continue allowing her to entertain herself for as long as possible before introducing technology, because I’m sure at some point in the future it will feel like it’s taking over. While we can’t avoid technology completely, I think there are certain times when I’d rather not have it. I wouldn’t want to pay to take an older child out for a meal to have them glued to their phone the whole time, so I think it’s worth having a few meals that don’t go completely to plan to embed good habits for later.

    • 23rd June 2015 / 3:12 pm

      I know what you mean about it buying you a few more minutes and I really don’t see any problem with that, I’ve had to enforce a no mobiles at the rule though as my teenager would happily sit there and ignore us if he was allowed!

  5. Cat
    23rd June 2015 / 4:28 pm

    Interesting post, for sure a subject that is personal to each household. With my daughter who is now 2 I didn’t even want her to look at a screen when she was tiny (not that she was ever that tiny), I even made sure she had her back to the TV in the evenings. This soon relaxed as I felt like a hypocrite when I was getting my mid winter screen time from phone / iPad/ tv etc. I now marvel at how fluid she is with the technology and the things she has learnt from certain apps and Tv shows amazes me. I of course would like to take the credit for everything she knows, but I’m afraid that her ‘apps’ have to take a small amount of credit (I know for sure it wasn’t me that told her how many bones a T Rex has). I do sometimes pack the iPad if I would like just one lunch out where Id like adult conversation to take priority, or I have hospital appointment and need her to not empty the cupboards out or jump on the hospital bed. Now my son is here and is 9 months he has developed a fascination with my phone – maybe its because I am on it a lot checking my Cyber world, maybe he is trying to fill it with so much dribble to render it useless – and he can have his Mum back, I don’t know.

    I do know that being technology savvy is crucial, I mean, look at us all now – its not like are having this conversation in the local village hall – we are immersed in our virtual world via the portal of our screens. I want my kids to have a broad range of skills, as many as possible – so they can in the future choose which they hone, ignore, develop or waste – I won’t be purposefully denying them any learning experience, nor will I be shoving them in from of a screen 24 /7.

    My iPad savvy girl is a hardy, out doorsy, sociable and curious creature – so I feel that as yet, I haven’t done her any harm.

    • 23rd June 2015 / 7:59 pm

      That’s such an interesting point and just what I need to hear! I feel guilty restricting my older kids screen time when I have so much but it’s good to see your daughter is learning so much from apps. I guess it’s about finding the right balance.

  6. Cat
    23rd June 2015 / 4:30 pm

    Interesting post, for sure a subject that is personal to each household. With my daughter who is now 2 I didn’t even want her to look at a screen when she was tiny (not that she was ever that tiny), I even made sure she had her back to the TV in the evenings – in case she grew an antennae and her eyes turned into pixels.This soon relaxed as I felt like a hypocrite when I was getting my mid winter screen time from phone / iPad/ tv etc. I now marvel at how fluid she is with the technology and the things she has learnt from certain apps and Tv shows amazes me. I of course would like to take the credit for everything she knows, but I’m afraid that her ‘apps’ have to take a small amount of credit (I know for sure it wasn’t me that told her how many bones a T Rex has). I do sometimes pack the iPad if I would like just one lunch out where Id like adult conversation to take priority, or I have hospital appointment and need her to not empty the cupboards out or jump on the hospital bed. Now my son is here and is 9 months he has developed a fascination with my phone – maybe its because I am on it a lot checking my Cyber world, maybe he is trying to fill it with so much dribble to render it useless – and he can have his Mum back, I don’t know.

    I do know that being technology savvy is crucial, I mean, look at us all now – its not like are having this conversation in the local village hall – we are immersed in our virtual world via the portal of our screens. I want my kids to have a broad range of skills, as many as possible – so they can in the future choose which they hone, ignore, develop or waste – I won’t be purposefully denying them any learning experience, nor will I be shoving them in from of a screen 24 /7.

    My iPad savvy girl is a hardy, out doorsy, sociable and curious creature – so I feel that as yet, I haven’t done her any harm.

  7. 23rd June 2015 / 8:07 pm

    I’ve never allowed my children to fiddle about on my phone like some parents do – that is a slippery slope and I don’t think I’d ever get it back! We bought our five year old a Hudl for Christmas though as he had started using my Kindle (we started him off with a portable DVD player as I wanted to keep him ‘offline’ for as long as possible but we lost the charger) and he generally does watch Cbeebies or play the Cbeebies games or a couple of minions games I’ve downloaded for him. I like the Hudl as it has good parental controls and I think five is a decent age to start him off with his own technology as he has also started school this year. But yes, I do remember sitting around with my family on a Sunday night all watching David Attenborough’s Life on Earth – now that was educational family time!! Thanks for linking up Ali – #thetruthabout

    • 23rd June 2015 / 10:20 pm

      We bought the Hudl for our older boys too, (unfortunately they both smashed the screens with in a few months) but we’re great for parental controls. You’re right though, when my baby gets hold of my phone he just dribbles & chews it so I rescue it off him quickly.

  8. Pearls are a Nuisance
    23rd June 2015 / 10:26 pm

    My 1-year-old loves my iPhone, but what she mostly wants to do with it is look at pictures of herself. (No idea why this is so fascinating to her.) I’m a lot more okay with this than I thought I’d be – maybe because she is interacting with it, rather than just passively watching? She’s swiping and zooming, or she’s watching her ‘reflection’ on the screen with the forward-facing camera on, and I do prefer this to e.g. watching TV.

  9. 24th June 2015 / 3:58 pm

    Before I bought the iPad I used to be the kind of mother who didn’t like my children playing with phones and ipads but once we had the iPad I’ve realised how much it actually learns the child. In so many ways. New songs and new words.
    My eldest now uses iPads in school. Although, they are allowed to watch TV and iPads they are not allowed a games console, TV at bedtime {in bedrooms} nore are they allowed on my iPad.

    And about the reastraunt, the iPad was a life saver when I was on holiday! Got the ipad out and I could relax so much more than I would have without the ipad!

    This is an interesting post. I guess there will always be mixed views about this because of the way we have been brought up but I think we have all just got to admit that our children are growing up with technology around them not like us. xx

    • 24th June 2015 / 4:41 pm

      I think it’s useful to see both sides, my immediate response to toddlers & technology was no but seeing how it can enrich their learning is interesting. I can see how having one in situations where you need them to sit quietly will help so I’m not ruling one out for the future.

  10. 25th June 2015 / 1:49 pm

    I’m getting the sense, from all the comments that there’s a real mixture of opinion. Different scenarios suit different families. I don’t have the tv on in the day now as my older children automatically put it on when they come in & I think it’s because they watched too much when they were little

  11. 25th June 2015 / 9:14 pm

    I used to be one of those parents that thought it was a cop out but since Archie’s Autism has come to light the tablet has become a great asset for him. When we’re out it gives him something to focus on to avoid getting overwhelmed, it gives him an alternative when he needs to be obsessive about sorting & organising thing things. He can play a constructive game instead of obsessively lining things up. We’re also integrating it into his speech therapy as he struggles with eye contact etc. in the same way technology can look like the easy solution it could also be really beneficial too x #brilliantblogposts

    • 26th June 2015 / 4:26 pm

      That’s amazing to find something which is so helpful, I wonder if there are any specific apps that would help him. I can see how having something that helps children focus is useful is situations where they might find something upsetting.

  12. Lana
    30th June 2015 / 12:39 am

    My 4-year-old loves the iPad. He would play with it all day if I let him. I allow it only for certain times of day

    • 30th June 2015 / 7:48 pm

      We have to put limits on everything electronic, they’d never move otherwise

  13. Jenny
    1st July 2015 / 2:34 am

    I am reading everyone’s comments to this one because it’s such a hard decision to make and once you start you NEVER can retract that decision and it scared me for so long. I am the same always working on my laptop online but I can’t stand kids plugged into video games all the time but I also dont’ want to never let them do it and they be outcast because they have no idea how to be in this era instead of how I grew up playing in the front garden until dark. Times really have changed. We slowing let the kids use ipads but only limited time supervised I can’t imagine when they want privacy with it to chat with their friends or online surf. EEEK I am so paranoid. You aren’t alone. Great post. Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme

    • 1st July 2015 / 3:36 am

      Thanks Jenny, I’m so glad you agree. I keep thinking I need to bring the boys up like I was but there comes a time when you have to accept change and how that can bring benefits. I worry about the big wide world it exposes them to though. I guess there’s always going to be that Conflict. I wasn’t allowed to watch much TV growing up until I was a teenager & now my mum always has it on!

  14. Pingback: Share With Me ~ #26 - Lets Talk Mommy
  15. 3rd July 2015 / 1:04 am

    My MIL bought boo a kiddy tablet for Christmas and I reluctantly let her play with it. She then broke it and, up until then, my iPad was secret. When I had the baby though, I felt like I had no choice. Nothing else would keep her occupied whilst I saw to him.
    Maybe I’m a bad parent but I think you do what you have to do.
    We play a lot of the time but I admit it, I put peppa on to get things done and do you know what? She’s my child and I do what is best for us. One size does not fit all 🙂

    • 3rd July 2015 / 1:32 pm

      No I don’t think you’re a bad parent, I think you’re a resourceful one! I’m all honesty it no different to putting the TV on to get a few minutes peace or like you say to tend to important things like the baby. It’s what suits the family circumstances I think and with a business to run from home I dare say there will come a time when I’ll be buying one!

  16. 4th July 2015 / 10:12 pm

    A very interesting one – and its all about balance, as always. My kids use technology, but not all the time. We limit it and they get that – they are 8 and 9. Because they get access, they don’t crave it all the time, and seem to be more than happy with the time they do get. Seems to work for us. Thanks for sharing with the Parenting Pin it Party – and also for displaying the badge too. Cheers, Helen

    • 5th July 2015 / 8:02 am

      Thank Helen. That’s a really interesting point about not craving it it, I can certainly see that in some other children I know who don’t get much time on theirs & when they come to our house that’s all they want to do.

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