You can’t blame your toddler for wanting to play with your tablet every chance she gets. She is attracted to the colorful screen that makes cool noises and responds to a simple swipe of her finger. You realize that tablets are quickly becoming the norm in schools, so the sooner your little one gets used to using one, the better.
Yet, you are understandably not sure what to think about this amazing technology in the chubby hands of your toddler. As it turns out, like many things in life, there are pros and cons of letting your toddler use your tablet, such as the following:
Pro: Reap the Educational Benefits
When used correctly, tablets work as an educational tool for young children. There are tons of apps you can download (many of them for free) that teach your little one shapes, colors and numbers. Five Little Monkeys is a musical counting game that was created with 2-year-olds in mind. If you think about it, sitting down with your toddler and looking at an educational app is not drastically different than checking out a book together. You are still interacting with your toddler and helping her learn something.
Pro: Pass the Time
Sitting in a waiting room with a fussy toddler can seem endless if you don’t have anything for her to do, and long car rides can also be challenging. Tablets have a way of captivating your toddler during these times, keeping her happily occupied for short bursts of time. Chances are good you are not the first mom to hand your toddler a tablet so you can finish your shopping in relative peace.
Pros: Control What She Sees
Most tablets come with parental controls that let you decide what your kiddo has access to. Apple products, like the iPad Mini 4, have a kid mode (officially known as Restrictions) that helps you put certain controls in place before you hand over your iPad to your toddler. Spend some time on the Apple support page to learn how to set up the restrictions on websites and features that you don’t want your preschooler to access. For example, you can restrict use of the camera to ensure your toddler is not taking zillions of selfies when you think she is working on her colors.
Con: It Should not Completely Replace Other Toys
The key is to let your toddler use your tablet sparingly. You don’t want to let your little one sit on the couch for hours playing with apps or to give her a tablet every time she starts to fuss. Make sure she is getting plenty of exercise and has access to books and other toys.
Con: Wait Awhile Longer
The mere fact that your toddler enjoys the tablet does not mean she is ready for one. According to PBS, experts suggest waiting until your kiddo is at least preschool age to give her a tablet. Kids under the age of two tend to learn best from real-world activities that enable them to use all of their senses. Even the best app does not replace the feel of her favorite stuffed teddy bear or the tactile nature of building something with wooden blocks.