We know — you have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, mobile devices provide much needed relief when you have to occupy your children. On the other, aren’t screens bad for their development? Well, people tend to think so, but the jury is still out on this one. An increasingly popular opinion says that screens aren’t inherently good or bad — they are just parenting tools like any other. Use them responsibly, and you’ll see nothing but benefits. With this in mind, here are the five reasons you should get your child a tablet.
1. To teach them technological literacy
Your first instinct may be to postpone the moment your children start using devices for as long as possible. Arguably, this could be a mistake. Same as regular literacy, tech literacy doesn’t just kick in at a certain age — it has to be cultivated over time. It will be much easier for your children to manage their screen habits if you get to guide and supervise their usage from an early age.
2. To stay engaged as a parent
There’s recently been a study that found that both children and parents prefer tablets to TV and physical toys. And the emphasis here is actually on parents, whose engagement is crucial for achieving development progress. Watching TV doesn’t encourage much interaction, while playing toys is too boring for the parents to stay engaged. Tablets, on the other hand, are a perfect tool to be used jointly by children and their parents.
3. To provide a tailored development path
Another great thing about tablets is that you can adjust the content immediately if something isn’t working. You get to try more apps, test a variety of approaches, and find something that fits your child best. You can’t quite do that with toys, books, or teachers — it would cost considerably more in time and money. This flexibility is valuable for any child, but especially so for a child with special needs.
4. To bait them into real-life activities
Parents report that children are much more eager to participate in real-life activities that they’ve previously experienced on-screen. Like a game sorting objects could transfer to folding laundry or cleaning a room. An on-screen basketball game could lead to an interest in playing actual basketball. And reading a book on a tablet could lead to an interest in reading physical books. It does sound a little counter-intuitive, after all, it was the other way around for our generation, but hey, it’s the new world, it works, just roll with it.
5. To substitute for passive content
While some television programs can be beneficial for preschoolers, toddlers are struggling to learn from watching TV and videos, which are largely passive activities. Tablets, on the other hand, offer interactive learning opportunities by encouraging children to tap objects on the screen and by providing real-time feedback. In fact, properly designed apps were proven to teach language just as effectively as actual parent-child interactions.
We won’t pretend like giving your toddler a tablet is a good thing all-around. Bu it could be. The real question here is whether you, as a parent, are ready to provide your guidance and supervision. If you are, then the tablet will become a powerful parenting aid and a tool for learning. If you are not, then the blame is really on you, not the device. Good luck!