Children and iPads: Tips to helping your toddler play with tablets

Technology is everywhere. And no matter how hard you try to keep your child away from screens (television sets, iPhones, computers), at some point they’re going to get distracted by something that displays a moving picture. And as high-tech gadgets become more portable and accessible – think iPads and tablets – the question becomes less how can you keep your child from being exposed to them and more about how your child can play with these “toys” safely. Here are some tips.

Toddler with iPad

Balance screen time with play time

Let’s be honest: when you’re busy, it’s way more convenient to plop your child in front of an iPad to play an educational game than it is to join her or him in playing, say, an actual board game. But that doesn’t mean you should do that every single time your schedule gets hectic. Instead of using the iPad as a default, mix in some play time with crayons and colouring books, or ask your son to help you with small tasks around the home. This will help your child learn there’s more to experience and learning than what comes with a screen.

Be selective about iPad time

Because these tech toys are so new, research into their effect on a wee one’s eyes is still in its infancy. So the safest bet is to limit how much time your child spends staring at screens. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that kids under two not watch TV (period); those older than two should watch no more than two hours of quality programming a day. Until other guidelines are developed, it might be safe to apply these rules to your child’s overall screen-watching time.

Talk to your child

Playing with tablets is essentially a passive way to spend time – you’re engaging with the machine, but not with your surroundings. To keep your child engaged – and to help develop vocabulary – spend as much time as you possibly can engaging her or him in conversation. Research shows that children who grow up in households with a rich language environment tend to be more successful and have a higher intelligence than their peers.

More about technology for kids

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Kids and technology: Age appropriate guide

Travel with kids: Take technology?