This issue has been a much discussed one, with many parents concerned about the effects the gadget has on their kids.
I just read an article that a few of my friends are sharing on Facebook and thought it appropriate that I share it here too.
The struggles that this father faced isn’t uncommon today, with most parents armed with gadgets like the iPad and the iPhone, or any other smart phones and similar devices.
Ben and I have our fair share of struggles with Phoebie with such technology. Phoebie learnt to access and navigate our iPhones on a trip I made back to Singapore to attend a family function. We were living in the US at that time and I had to make a trip back with Phoebie. Ben couldn’t make the trip with us because of work.
When we made that trip, Phoebie was about 21 months old and until then, she wasn’t allowed to do anything more than watch Sesame Street videos on my iPhone.
During the trip back to Singapore, Phoebie had some separation anxiety because she didn’t know any of the family members and the only way they could help me with her was by getting her attention with the iPhone. Cousins would help me with her by passing her their phones and sitting her on their laps. A few days like that was enough to turn my then less-than-2-year-old daughter an iPhone savvy toddler.
We still had much control over her gadget usage until the weeks before we moved back to Singapore. Both Ben and I were really busy packing and some days, the only way to keep phoebie occupied long enough for us to get work done was by passing her an iPhone or iPad.
I must say that we reaped some benefits, seeing how much Phoebie learnt from the flash cards apps we had downloaded for her. She learnt shapes, colours and even picked up quite a lot of Chinese words by navigating the iPad on her own.
The alarms rang in our heads when Phoebie started to reject naps because she had wanted the iPad. And the first thing she wanted after napping was the same gadget. I knew we had gone too far with it.
We started to limit her gadget usage tremendously, much to her displeasure , but she soon realized how much more there was to do in her environment. She had books, toys, and all kinds of things around her that she could play with when she didn’t have the gadgets.
Today, we try to talk her through some of the apps she uses and interacts with her as she navigates through them. And of course, Ben and I try to remind each other to put our own gadgets away as much as we can and give her our attention. That would probably be the most helpful thing of all.
There are still some days that we fall back a little on that, but I think we learn along the way.
My best saving grace is that when we count down the time that Phoebie spends on gadgets, she complies and returns the gadget to us when time is up.
I have also learnt not to download everything and anything that the TV suggests for kids. Recently, the Disney junior live app has reached Singapore shores and I have decided not to download that. Phoebie gets enough Disney junior time at home and I don’t need her staring at the iPad screen anytime, anywhere. I’d rather she observe her surroundings and look at what is around her.