This past Christmas, grandma wanted to purchase some kid-friendly tablets for each of my two children and my niece, who is five months older than my daughter. We researched which tablets had the features we most sought for the children: durability in terms of being able to take a floor smack and some kind of solid internal WiFi with a direct connection to a marketplace where we could purchase apps and programs at will. With the exception of variations in storage space and some other minor design elements, we found little difference in tablet features. Since the Amazon Fire 7 Kids Edition tablets ran an awesome promotion during the holiday season, my mom lucked up in her purchasing power for the three. She lovingly sent them to our home before Christmas, unwrapped so that we could set up passwords and how-tos and such ahead of time, and we hid them in a closet until the Christmas morning reveal.
Correction: Played with them, then hid them in a closet.
Forget Santa. Grandma won Christmas. She usually does.
Jrue and Jai were intrigued by their blue and pink tablets, respectively, nearly right away. Jai was a bit less impressed, of course, because of her age, but it caught up in no time. These two had been previously “sharing” a Nabi Jr., and it had gotten to the point where Jai babbled for more time on the device as Jrue fought to snatch it out of her grip.
We were thankful for this rift.
Each of the devices were armed with our Hulu, Netflix, and ABCMouse subscriptions. The hubs downloaded several of the kids’ favorites movies to each tablet. He rearranged icons on the desktops for ease of access. We handed Jrue and Jai the tablets proudly, confidently, two parents of millennial expertise and tech savvy presenting the world to our children to explore and conquer. Like small crowns for their big heads. Ta-da.
And on they went.
To conquer and to drive mommy crazy.
At any given moment, the living room television is blasting the opening credits of a cartoon that the kids requested 55 seconds after awakening. Additionally, both tablets are in their little hands, blaring different scenes from the same movie, one tablet just one yodeling scene behind the other, both turned up to full volume. Their random screams of belligerence against one another declares a temporary warfare within the blend of Moana’s singing and the “Cat in the Hat” reminding the kids that, yet again, their “mother wouldn’t mind.”
Oh, Cat. Mothers always mind.
Simultaneously, because Jai cannot yet read and make independent decisions, I must direct her every swipe at little cyber coloring pages and through addictive musical melodies. With an attention span no longer than three minutes, it takes a lot of patience to have to digitally maneuver her entertainment. Find the movie she wants started. Begin the movie. Change the movie because that’s not the movie. Fast-forward the movie to the correct scene. Curse the movie.
It is always so…noisy. Over and over again.
What can I do with their level of recreation, though? They are still young and, from what I understand, it will get worse. I do worry about screen time and brain development and proper influence, just like many other parents. But I try to remain positive…and keep my eye on the clock for time monitoring. Mostly.
An article on ABC News encouraged parents to look at the brighter side of children’s tablet usage, particularly for toddlers and preschoolers. “There are no studies that look at the effects of tablets on babies because the technology is too new,” it stated. “But other studies on older children have shown that they can learn efficiently from interactive media. In a report. . .researchers claim that toddlers can learn efficiently from interactive media, such as age-appropriate video games. Child development experts say the key is not to use the tablet as an electronic babysitter, but as a teaching tool, and to interact with your child as they use the devices.” (Chang, Rakowsky, and Clark, 2013)
I feel that. The tablets are educational. Yes. Okay. Mommy is right here, exerting electronic manpower to a great extent. I can absolutely deal with a bit of cacophony if it yields a learning opportunity. Even through Daniel Tiger’s annoyingly repetitive narrative.
I could buy headphones for them, I suppose.
Chang, JuJu, Rakowsky, Christine, and Clark, Daniel. “Toddlers and Tablets: Way of the Future?” ABC News, Jun. 5, 2013, https://abcnews.go.com/Technology/toddlers-tablets-future/story?id=19332916. Accessed Feb. 18, 2018.