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We Need to Talk: Kids & Screen Time

Not to be overly dramatic, but I read the most fascinating New York Times post the other day and it completely changed my thoughts on kids and screen time.  If you have kids, then you have surely been bombarded with the news that TV is not great for them.  Your pediatrician likely recommended nixing the boob tube completely until the age of 2 and keeping viewing to a limited amount after that.  And if that didn’t sink in, you’ve probably run into at least one mom eager to share links between too much TV and ADHD or perhaps even autism (I have!).  Then there was the guilt-trip smack down a Waldorf dad laid on a whole room of unsuspecting parents at a preschool info. night I attended last year, “When my kids read about Peter Pan, they have an image of his world constructed completely by their own imagination – not by Disney”.

 

I’m being a bit glib here (that’s kinda my thing) but I really do believe that TV (especially in large and consistent chunks) is detrimental to children’s brain development, not to mention their levels of physical activity, and I’ve limited my kids’ viewing time accordingly.  It’s one parenting task I can firmly file under the “getting it right” column.  Or at least it was until the iPad came along.

 

“Screen time” no longer solely refers to the time your littles spend planted in front of a TV – now there’s so many more screens to worry about!  And the rules here aren’t nearly so black and white.  I definitely don’t want a 3 year old pre-diabetic Angry Birds addict on my hands but I’m also a little worried about him falling behind his iphone-proficient peers once he starts school if I don’t introduce him to some level of technology now.  Have you heard of the “app gap“? It’s a phrase coined by researchers who found that almost half of families surveyed with incomes above $75,000 had downloaded apps specifically for their young children, compared with one in eight of the families earning less than $30,000. More than a third of those low-income parents said they did not even know what an “app” was.

 

So what’s the answer here?  Do I hand over the iPad or not?  It’s a question I’ve struggled with, especially once C started skipping naps and the thought of him quietly plugging away on it while I got some work done became increasingly enticing.  And that’s when I read this amazing post that convinced me it’s OK to let the kids discover what an app is – as long as it’s the right kind of app.

 

The take-home here is this: Screen time needs to be for creating, not for watching!Here’s what the post author, KJ Dell’Antonia,is selling (and I’m buying):

What if, instead of turning the computer off during the week, I turned it on, but with a catch: no watching. No playing. Only creating. They could program with Scratch or Alice, the simple languages that allow kids to build games and create and move characters. They could use painting or drawing programs or create movies or cartoons for as long as homework and bedtime and sports allowed. How would I feel about screen time then?

KJ’s idea of emphasizing creativity apps and computer programs over all others stems from America’s growing need for technology experts.  She reports that despite the president calling on universities to graduate hundreds of thousands more engineers and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) teachers in the next few years, 40 percent  of students who enter college intending to get a degree in a STEM field don’t.  The message is clear, computers are a part of our children’s world – and always will be.

 

So how do all us well-meaning parents find these creativity gold mine apps?  I’m not entirely sure.  But I did recently stumble on this round up of websites that promote children’s creativity. And this is also an excellent post written by an occupational therapist who works with special needs children.  She writes that she initially believed, “everything [her children] needed to learn, they could do so through play, their daily experiences, and interactions with the people in their world. What I hadn’t realized (and obviously do now), is that the iPad does not replace any of these things, but can be a fun way to further explore and explain my children’s world”.  I highly recommend you check out the full post in which she offers up an extensive list of apps, 10 practical use tips, and effectively demonstrates how the iPad can be used to extend learning experiences.

I want to be clear, I’m still very much in favor of limiting all types of screen time and I still believe that interacting with their world is the best way for young children to learn.   But I’m also coming around to the idea of the iPad playing a role in some of that limited screen time.  What do you think about all this?  We’ve gotten so good at sharing with each other around here lately and I’d love to keep it up.  What (if any) restrictions do you put on screen time around your house and are there any kid apps you swear by?

UPDATE: Sometimes when I write blog posts, I forget you guys don’t actually know me in real life and I skip ahead of myself a little.  To clear up some of your confusion – until very recently my stance on screen time was very limited TV (2 – 3 hours/week) and no apps at all.  Reading the article above simply made me feel comfortable beginning to hand over my iPad for even more limited amounts of time to be used with very specific types of apps.  I certainly don’t believe that creativity is best fostered by computers or that technology needs to be present in our preschools.  I hope that clarifies where I’m coming from.  But I really didn’t write the post to try to convince you of my way of doing things anyway.  I wrote it to say I’m still figuring it all out and to start a dialogue about the topic.  To that end – keep conversing and thanks!

DON’T FORGET THERE’S ONLY 1 DAY LEFT TO ENTER OUR $200 GIVEAWAY TO THE LAND OF NOD!!

P.S. In case the exceptionally observant amongst you are wondering – C isn’t watching Top Gun in the photo above, it’s a Mighty Machines episode.

Similar Stuff:
Everything You Need to Know to Pick the Right Preschool
Book Week: How to Find Great Kid Books
The “Rabbit Diet” – A Nutritious and Fun New Lunch System for Kids

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{ 58 comments… read them below or add one }

Trish February 23, 2012 at 6:08 am

My daughter (3.5 years) has an iPod touch of her own and is proficient at using her dad’s iPad. Both my husband and I are educators (he an assistant principal and I a math teacher), and we agree, there is so much that can be done on a computer, tablet, and smart phone nowadays, and it just keeps expanding. Literacy is no longer limited to books and magazines, but it includes being literate in technology. In order for our children to be proficient adults, they need to know how to use the tech, how to judge for bias on a website, and be able to process the information and summarize it. Yes, there are plenty of time-wasters and straight-up games with no value, but we have to model and teach our kids appropriate usage. What better time than when they are little parrots? I would say that my daughter has about an hour total of screen time (tv or mobile device) per day. If driving long time frames, she is allowed her iPod and will go back and forth between her movies and her reading/math apps. She still plays outside and playa with her Barbie dolls and has an amazing imagination. The key is to remember that we are preparing our children for a work force that will require them to use technology that doesn’t yet exsist. Learning the tech basics now and growing with the technology will ensure their success.

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Steph at ModernParentsMessyKids.com February 23, 2012 at 8:04 pm

Thanks for sharing your thoughts – I think it’s so hard to figure out what we as parents need to do (if anything) to successfully prepare our kids for that technology that doesn’t yet exist.

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Tiffany February 23, 2012 at 7:00 am

I am constantly criticized and looked down upon by my mother friends for letting my 20 month old play with my iPad. I was amazed at how quickly he caught on. He mostly plays with one app.. Monkey Preschool Lunchbox. While I also work with him during the day, this app in a a month and a half has definitely contributed to him learning his letters, counting, his colors, even just being able to finish his puzzles. Like Trish said, we now live in a time where you need to be literate in technology. Besides the short time he plays with the iPad, he is on the go all day long.

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Trish February 25, 2012 at 12:32 am

My daughter has Monkey’s Lunch Box too!! Check out the Numberly’s – might be a little long for a 20 month old, but it is beautifully done!

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Mhairi February 23, 2012 at 10:45 am

I am in Australia and we recently discovered Mighty Machines. HOW GOOD ARE THEY!!!!!!
My four year old loves them and the DVD’s are under $5 each here. SO 80 minutes of informative screen time that I actually find interesting too.

Thanks for the great info about screen time, I have been trying to work out how to justify the time my children spend on the computer etc in with their viewing. Thankfully my children are very active and inactivity is not an issue but I also don’t want them to feel that the television is the only way to relieve boredom.

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Steph at ModernParentsMessyKids.com February 23, 2012 at 8:07 pm

Mighty Machines are my “go to” for viewing while traveling – love them! I too really worry about creativity suffering when the kids automatically turn to screen time to alleviate boredom.

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Tiffany Patterson February 23, 2012 at 12:59 pm

My daughter (3 years old) has taught her grandparents how to use the iPad. She practices her writing of letters, spelling and enjoys the books that read aloud to her as the words light up. She practices her numbers and does puzzles and a memory match game with ease. Her vocabulary has expanded because of it. I only let her on it for limited times and only get educational apps…..

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glimmersnaps February 23, 2012 at 1:12 pm

I have struggled with this same thing! My one year old loves screens (they are colorful and shiny after all!) and we let him watch photo slideshows and home videos on the desktop and play a couple of apps. He does the kind that you touch and a picture pops up and it makes a sound. I try to make sure he’s as far away from the screen as possible and I continue talking to him during the experience. Like, if he’s watching photos I’ll tell him the names of the people in them or what we were doing. I totally think they need to learn tech skills (I’ve taught 5th graders who didn’t know what the Internet was) but I’m also concerned about him becoming absorbed in them. I hope talking and maintaining eye contact will help. Thanks for this, it made me feel less guilty!!

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Steph at ModernParentsMessyKids.com February 23, 2012 at 8:15 pm

You make a great point – there’s a difference between interacting with these programs and apps along with your child and walking away while they’re using them on their own.

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carmen16 February 23, 2012 at 2:47 pm

It’s a challenge for all parents to decide. For me, it was important to not start kids on screen time before 2 years old and neither started playing on the computer before age 4. We don’t have an iPad or iPhone. My kids do enjoy Starfall (ad-free) on the computer.

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Ana February 23, 2012 at 3:09 pm

Thanks for this great post!
I just wrote about my own internal dilemma about this very thing on my blog:

http://sandwichd.tumblr.com/post/17946690279/im-raising-a-couple-of-techno-geniuses-i-hope

Your article and links actually made me feel better about the screen time I give my kids.

I do see the redeeming value in many apps (and the complete un-redeeming value in others) and think it is important to expose your kids to technology. My problem is getting them to put the iPad down to do something physically creative……

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Steph at ModernParentsMessyKids.com February 23, 2012 at 8:16 pm

That’s exactly what scares me – so far my son’s only intermittently used a bedtime app and that’s it. I’m worried about opening up the flood gates.

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Sarah February 23, 2012 at 3:32 pm

Although I don’t think that letting your child use an iPad or similar is going to rot their brains, I don’t think it’s necessary for them to become proficient with computers later on in life.

I think that our family got our first computer when I was 11, and here I am many years later with my computer science degree. My husband’s experience is much the same. My brother’s is as well – although he went into physics.

Learning how to physically use a computer is such a small thing compared to the other skills and aptitudes you need to pursue a higher education in the sciences. A healthy natural curiosity and the ability to try to solve a problem over and over again despite failing the first few times would seem much more important.

If you want your kids to play with an iPad, go ahead and do so. But until I see some sort of scientific evidence I wouldn’t jump to the conclusion that early iPad use is going to give kids an advantage in science fields down the road.

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Mommy, Papa and the 'Nuts February 23, 2012 at 4:17 pm

Well said Sarah.

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Steph at ModernParentsMessyKids.com February 23, 2012 at 8:23 pm

I would definitely agree with that – I believe the author of the post was talking about introducing her kids to apps that would allow them to explore working with technology at an early age. A computer programming app for kids was specifically mentioned.

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Anonymous February 23, 2012 at 9:37 pm

Ditto. It’s aptitude for learning that is important to develop now, not the computer skills themselves.

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Unknown March 4, 2012 at 5:36 pm

Thank you Sarah!
I don’t have a smart phone. My 11 month can have her first cell phone when she has the income to pay for it. I think it is absurd to think that a child needs to be proficient in computer technology. My 7 year-old nephew hates reading and learning in general yet he constantly asks if he can play on the computer. Even with learning games he doesn’t have the slightest clue what is going on. It’s pathetic! He does not need to be computer proficient…He just needs to be knowledgeable.

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Kate February 23, 2012 at 3:39 pm

I think think this issue is going to increasingly become a hot button for parents. I take seriously the AAP’s statement that any and all screen time is detrimentally to children under the age of 2. Beyond that, it gets more complicated.

I did want to comment on the “app gap” notion and say that I don’t think it’s a concern. Children adapt to technology very quickly once introduced and your child isn’t going to be lagging behind his peers in school if he hasn’t learned to use the computer prior to that time. The fact that low-income children aren’t exposed to apps isn’t a negative thing.

The idea of selecting only interactive and creative programming is noble. I suspect once you delve into technology, it’ll be difficult to maintain. Where’s the line? Which apps are creative enough? If the iPad is reading your child a story, is that considered interactive or passive? The question to ask yourself is: what about this activity is enhanced by it being on a screen? Painting and art seem to me to work best with physical tangible materials. Other activities might legitimately be great online.

Thanks for wrestling with this!

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Christina Aaron - BSc. February 23, 2012 at 3:49 pm

Thanks for this. I also struggle with the screen time thing (what’s the right thing to do) and now my 5yr old has become interested in video games so I have that one to struggle with too. Thought I’d share this link :
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2N-5maKZ9Q&feature=player_embedded
It has bought him a tiny bit more screen time in our house…

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cecilia February 23, 2012 at 4:33 pm

what an important topic. it’s easy to feel guilty, isn’t it? we don’t have cable at home so we don’t watch television. we watch movies though. and it can quickly add up to 2hrs a day. i tell myself this is ok because at least we aren’t exposed to commercials (which unequivocally rot all of our brains :) )

thanks for all the resources again. i think tools like the ipad can help children embrace tactile learning in a way that wasn’t possible before. there are so many pros and cons…it makes my head spin.

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Kim February 23, 2012 at 4:43 pm

I agree with Sarah. My kids had VERY limited screen time (TV or computer) until they were 12 or so, as in 1/2 hr. of each per day until that age. My oldest DS is VERY computer-minded and just got a research position at his University related to computers, even though most of his knowledge was self-taught. BECAUSE he had limited screen time, he spent a LOT of time reading (both computer and non-computer books) which instilled in him a love of reading and learning that has served him well now that he is in college and pursuing a dual electrical engineering and computer science degree. He worked hard in high school (love of learning, self-motivated) and started at the university with 2 years of college courses already under his belt. Kids, amazingly, pick up how to use electronics VERY quickly even if they’ve not had a lot of exposure to it. I know it doesn’t seem like it when kiddos are little, but their childhood goes by so quickly…make sure they have time and the desire to spend hours constructing a tree fort, exploring nature, and having imaginary adventures with their siblings or friends in the back yard. Imagination and love of learning are not things that can be taught by computers or other electronic devices.

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Steph at ModernParentsMessyKids.com February 23, 2012 at 8:24 pm

Love these thoughts!

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JCG February 23, 2012 at 5:43 pm

I totally agree with Kate and Sarah. I hate being a naysayer, but I feel like you’re inviting comment, so I am going to indulge myself and speak out :-)

I am a former information technology professional and can attest that apps and computers these days are made to be learned within minutes. Kids who don’t learn to use them as toddlers/preschoolers aren’t missing out. Technology moves so fast that by the time kids NEED to learn that way, they will be able to catch up to their peers within seconds or minutes. The apps your kids are learning to use now aren’t what they will use later on in life, so being proficient in them is pretty much just that – proficiency in an app. I do like that you want to make sure your kids are creating, and using technology for academic purposes – that’s way better than letting them use it to zone out. But I have to say, for every adult who remarks upon how much their kid learned from using an iPad or iPod – your child would have learned the same thing from your interaction with them, and they would have used their whole body and soul and heart to learn it, instead of just a small portion of their brain and one or two fingers on a screen. I say that because learning as little ones encompasses using their whole body (all the jumping and wiggling and climbing and dress up and experimental learning), their whole mind (left and right brain) and their whole heart (when they look in your eyes and ask you questions and you answer them and show them that they are the most important thing in the world to you).

This is not to say that I am at all judging you. I am just saying that they wouldn’t be left out had they not had that experience. You can do even better than an iPad or computer for your kids.

Yes, sometimes we need to work and get our stuff done. I am, at this moment, sitting down to three hours of work while my kids (4 and 2) have rest time, which means playing quietly in their rooms. I know as well as anyone that we can’t always be sitting with our kids teaching them. I just think that learning from a computer, or any screen for that matter, is a very physically and intellectually limited way for a very little one to learn.

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Steph at ModernParentsMessyKids.com February 23, 2012 at 8:30 pm

Hi JCG,

Yes! I am inviting comment and I”m glad you took time to share. Just to be clear, my kids still don’t use the iPad as I’m not really a fan of educational apps either. I’d much rather they learn those things through experience. What I wanted to share with this post was that I’ve recently transitioned from completely keeping the iPad away from the kids to being open to letting them have it occasionally to use creative (not “educational”) apps. As many here have already pointed out here, though, I’m afraid that once I do so the flood gates may be opened and I may have a hard time controlling how they use it. This is an issue I think many of us will continue to struggle with.

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JCG February 24, 2012 at 3:05 am

I hear ya! Some of my comments on educational apps, etc. were really more in response to previous comments than your initial post. I love this discussion and am so glad you were brave enough to put your thoughts out there! Kudos to you for this and the site in general – love it -

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Megan B February 23, 2012 at 5:55 pm

I try not to feel any guilt about screen time with my son, who is 5. He’s allowed to watch an hour or less of tv during the day, and his choices are limited. He enjoys fairly educational shows, and actually is watching a Leapfrog alphabet video right now. I don’t kid myself into thinking that this video is all it’s going to take for him to start reading, but the song that they sing definitely helped him remember his letter sounds since it’s so catchy.
The one thing that’s thrown a wrench into my whole ‘limited screen time’ issue was the kindle fire I received as a Christmas gift. My son LOVES it, and asks to play on it first thing in the morning. It keeps him nice and quiet so my husband and I can sleep in, but before we know it, he’s been on it for an hour! So, we have to limit that as well. He does choose books and ‘educational’ apps, but he also loves Angry Birds. I let him play any of the apps I’ve selected, but now I’m just working on limiting it.
Small doses are best in my opinion.

As a side note, he is terrible at using a mouse! So I’m not sure that the screen time he has is really making him more computer efficient at all!
Megan

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Anonymous February 23, 2012 at 5:57 pm

There is a reason why toddlers and preschoolers pick it up so fast. It’s easy. There is no reason why they need that at such a young age. I worry that opinion articles like that will cause people to think it’s open season on those types of games and apps. Some of greatest minds in the tech world keep their kids away from technology because they know the way to truly learn to love the STEM subjects is to experience the real world and all it’s wonder. Save the flashy stuff for when they are older.

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Steph at ModernParentsMessyKids.com February 23, 2012 at 8:34 pm

I have the same worries, see my comment to JCG above. I’m not a fan of flash cards or worrying about teaching toddlers to read. I just wonder if we can keep it away from the kids completely when they see it at their friends houses (and sometimes in mommy and daddy’s hands).

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Fold Invites February 23, 2012 at 6:07 pm

I love these comments! With my first, I was so afraid to let her watch anything, especially before she was three. We did allow TV eventually, but our old nanny let her watch all day in the background, and my daughter got addicted and cranky when she watched, so we had to phase it out almost completely! Now, it’s all in regulation but she does know the ipod and ipad as well as we do, and we allow her to watch one movie on a long trip, but usually she plays spelling and math games which have taught her a ton. There is Motessorium game called Intro to Letters which allows her to trace, and record herself saying the letter sounds. It’s amazing, and she loves it and learns at the same time. As long as you regulate the time, I think it can be beneficial in a lot of ways!

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Paula February 23, 2012 at 6:38 pm

I am a 60 year old grandmother raising two grandchildren and I cannot believe what I am reading. Neither of my grandkids own an IPOD touch, an IPhone or an IPAD. And neither do I by the way. They get plenty of computer time at school and at home if they need to go onto the family computer to do homework or write in their personal blogs. In my own humble opinion they are not any further behind in technology than their peers who own all of that. The idea that kids prior to school need this is appalling to me. How about letting them play and think up things on their own. And read a book. Or color with a real crayon. Or write a story. I think it is the parents of the world who are pushing their kids so hard to be older, better, and have more. Let kids be kids. That is just my 2 cents worth. Thanks for allowing me my opinion

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Mommy, Papa and the 'Nuts February 23, 2012 at 11:05 pm

I completely agree with you. Its this competitive generation of parent that pushes their kids/ignores their kids/pawns off their kids by plugging them into TV, computers, “Educational Apps”… Its going to be a sad place to be when those same kids that can only function in one way are running the world, not able to think outside of A BOX and they’re taking care of US. *shudder*

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Mindful Mum February 24, 2012 at 3:03 am

Totally agree with Paula & Mommy, and others commenting who are against the use of apps by children. I’ve struggled a lot with deciding appropriate TV time for my 18mo, let alone wondering if she should be learning iPad apps, that just seems insane to me. I think a lot of the talk about the educational benefits of screen time just serves to make parents feel less guilty for using another kind of electronic babysitter. Why can’t kids just be given a real crayon, instead of pressing their finger on a screen to draw? Why on earth does an 18 month old need to learn letters and numbers anyway? Why can’t kids just be kids? There is precious enough time to be a child in this world as the teen years seem to start so early nowadays, surely we can let our preschoolers use their imaginations and dig around in the dirt, build real blocks, touch real picture books and BE CHILDREN instead of pushing electronic devices on them under the guise of educating them whe really it’s about keeping them occupied so that parents don’t have to.

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Vanessa February 23, 2012 at 6:48 pm

I’m happy to see articles from thoughtful people about media. I feel most of the stuff out there doesn’t consider the human experience. I’m actually on the end of the spectrum that allows any screen time. I don’t have anyone to vouch for me and I’m certainly biased but my four year old is one of the most creative imaginative kids I know. And I’m not alone. There are many creative types in the unschooling (a type of homeschooling) community that have had positive experiences with media too. I wrote about my own experience here, with links to other pro media articles at the end: http://bonboneater.typepad.com/bon_bon_eater/2012/01/media-time.html

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Anonymous February 23, 2012 at 6:48 pm

This is a great site for finding apps for kids http://www.lunchboxreviews.com
They allow you to search by age and category (creative, games, learning, etc.) and they are reviewed by other parents.

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lemondropdreams February 23, 2012 at 8:01 pm

I struggle with screen time…I have four kids, 2-12, my 12 year old really needs to be monitored on the computer so I don’t normally let him have exposure to it. The boob tube on the other hand hasn’t been so bad, my 2 yr. old learned his ABC’s from “Super Why”. I think it all depends on what apps and TV shows you’re letting them be exposed to.

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Steph at ModernParentsMessyKids.com February 23, 2012 at 8:37 pm

I’ve been responding to a lot of your comments individually but I also wanted to say Thank You! to everyone that’s sharing. This is a topic we are all bound to have varying views on and I’m so proud to see that we can have a constructive conversation without turning judgmental or nasty (as commenting strings on many sites have a tendency to do). I really appreciate that!

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Steph at ModernParentsMessyKids.com February 23, 2012 at 8:42 pm

Forgot to mention – I just put up a link to another great post on the facebook about one family’s decision to unplug.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Modern-Parents-Messy-Kids/116049441795285

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Anonymous February 23, 2012 at 10:05 pm

My daughter is now 1. She gets 45 minutes of screen time watching “Your Baby and Read”. She has been watching this since she was 4 months old. She goes through my phone like it is hers. I think this is a great idea with the ipad. I think I might just go and get her one for her second birthday.

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Anonymous February 23, 2012 at 10:06 pm

Sorry I forgot to mention she can read about 200 words.

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Steph at ModernParentsMessyKids.com February 23, 2012 at 11:07 pm

So I know I just wrote this whole thing about not being judgmental… but I just want to say, please don’t feel you need to go buy your tot an iPad! My 3 year old gets no more than 2 – 3 hours of screen time A WEEK (and my 19 month old none at all). I’m simply thinking about allowing 30 – 45 minutes of that screen time per week to involve the iPad. I completely agree with many of the commenters here that toddlers by no means need screen time to learn.

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Mindful Mum February 24, 2012 at 3:14 am

@Anonymous, I am at the opposite end of this topic and considering sending my daughter (18mo who can read 200 words less than your 12mo lol) to a Steiner school where kids don’t learn to read until about age 7, and much is made of the benefits of learning to read later. I’m still undecided as to whether 7 is too late, but I have to say that neither my husband nor his siblings learned to read until they were 8 and they are all happy, well-rounded and successful people, both academically and otherwise. I am genuinely curious as to why you feel it’s necessary to have your child start learning to read at 4 months?

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Mommy, Papa and the 'Nuts February 23, 2012 at 10:40 pm

I’m sad to see how many people honestly think their two year old NEEDS an ipad or TV to learn, or for them not to be bored. What happened to playing outside? reading books? Using their imagination?? Like another commenter said, coloring with a REAL crayon? If people feel guilty about TV time, there IS a reason for it. It means you aren’t spending time interacting with your kids, or at least letting them interact with each other. TV can be fun, movies are great and my kids love a DVD of Mighty Machines too…but when it replaces human interaction, or is not only at home but in the CAR, at the restaurant etc etc. I think (I THINK) you’re not teaching your kids about the real world…and they certainly aren’t learning to be patient or creative… REAL LIFE skills that will serve them better than ANY app.

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Anonymous February 26, 2012 at 5:42 am

AMEN.

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Anonymous March 6, 2012 at 4:56 pm

I completely agree. The reasoning this blog puts forth for allowing the child to play with the iPad being that other wealthy kids do? Sad. I’ll be a bit more hesitant spending time reading this blog now!

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zoleo February 24, 2012 at 12:04 am

This was a great post with great links – thanks! I gave my son some new rules for screen time and then we all played with Squiggles on the iPad. Sadly, while creating squiggles, we learned that you should never hold an iPad by the smart cover while sitting at the kitchen counter directly over ceramic tile. My 2 week old iPad is toast. :(

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Steph at ModernParentsMessyKids.com February 24, 2012 at 3:51 am

An entirely different reason to keep the iPad away from the kids. So sorry for your loss, that hurts :(

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Shannon February 24, 2012 at 12:25 am

Your article sounds very pro-iPad for kids, but your comments don’t so I’m not really sure how to respond. The idea that you need to introduce your child to the iPad because they will enter school behind their non-iPad peers is ridiculous to me. Also, the research you presented of an “app gap” really just proves that parents with more disposable income spend more money on apps for their kids. It doesn’t prove that they are making those children more successful in school. My 5 year old watches 1/2 an hour of tv a day and he usually averages 45 minutes to an hour of iPad time a month. However, we can go months without him even touching it. We are extremely conservative in allowing him (and his younger sister) to access technology. They have the rest of their lives to work on a computer, now is the time for them to dig in the dirt. As a former educator I have seen numerous cases of kids with attention, health and sleeping problems that may not be attributed to excessive amounts screen time, but I assure you these kids were exposed to large amounts of tv and computer time and it certainly didn’t help their behavior/academic problems. I totally agree with Mommy, Papa & the Nuts – every time I see a kid watching something or playing games at a restaurant I cringe. I think we’re raising a generation of kids who will have a very hard time functioning in the real world.

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Mindful Mum February 24, 2012 at 3:18 am

Totally. I have a friend whose 3yo is allowed to play on her iphone wherever they are, at all times. He doesn’t play with other children and is completely zoned out on it at playdates. It just horrifies me.

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Steph at ModernParentsMessyKids.com February 24, 2012 at 3:39 am

Hi Shannon,

I wasn’t trying to promote either of those ideas. What I meant was I made a choice as a parent NOT to let my child interact with an iPad at all – and then I worried that I made the wrong choice (because that’s what parents do, right?). I’m not saying my reasons for worrying were sound, I’m just putting out there what I was thinking about. As for the “app gap”, I’m also not suggesting that such a gap is correlated with school success – only that the gap does actually exist and as a parent I have to consider whether or not I care which side of that gap my child falls on (regardless of socio-economic status).

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Paula February 24, 2012 at 4:19 am

Steph I think you just need to follow your own gut and not worry about what other parents are doing. You will know what is best for your kids. I still believe for myself and my grandkids that there will not be those devices at this time. And they are 12 and 14. Being an older parent might protect me from caving into the ‘but everyone does it’ However, I do think most of this is coming from the upper socio-economic groups as they are the ones who can afford all this stuff. This has been an awesome discussion, huh?

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Steph at ModernParentsMessyKids.com February 24, 2012 at 6:54 am

It’s been great!

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Amy February 24, 2012 at 1:53 am

i just read that many of the high tech northern california executives send their kids to waldrorf (and similar) schools. schools that focus on nature, high quality materials and imagination. not high tech – wired preschools.

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Mindful Mum February 24, 2012 at 3:22 am

That is very interesting Amy. I have just started my 18mo at a Steiner AKA Waldorf playgroup and my husband and I are seriously considering putting her on the waiting list for the attached preschool and possibly beyond. I have reservations about some of the methods, especially the late reading age, but I love what I have seen so far and am keeping an open mind as we decide how to proceed. There are no flashing lights or plastic and nothing electronic at all, and my daughter is just thriving at the playgroup, she loves it. I will try and find more info on these execs as part of my research!

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Be A Fun Mum February 24, 2012 at 2:19 am

“Screen time needs to be for creating, not for watching!” — I agree! In our family, we see technology as a wonderful part of our life and aids in learning. Thanks so much for including the my post on Be A Fun Mum.

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2flowerslearn.com February 25, 2012 at 12:52 am

What a great post. I have been struggling with this too as I hear very strong opinions from both camps. I think you have hit the nail on the head as Be a Fun Mum above said. Finding what works for our kids and us and understanding that, makes decisions all the easier. Thanks for verbalizing your thoughts.

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Darcy February 28, 2012 at 1:59 am

Thanks for this post – I’ve gone back and forth on the app dilemma but i have noticed that with a lot of apps my kids seem to actively engage – to make decisions, discuss things, solve problems. which doesn’t seem as bad as tv.

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Anonymous March 6, 2012 at 2:42 pm

Real life experience is always better for children than virtual experience. I’ve lost respect for this blog with this posting! “creating” time on a screen does not make it better.

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Joh November 23, 2012 at 8:13 am

“Smart Toddler School Pro++” apple app– This all in one or kindergarten prep app provides everything about upper, lower case letters, numbers, colors, shapes, counting and provides good listening and learning.  The child will have the opportunity to learn to write, counting, colors, and advanced shapes.  My son learned lot from this. He play with it for hours and hours.

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