Here’s an interesting observation that I’ve made when out for dinner the other night. There was a family of three dining in the table next to us and when the youngest son started crying out loud, seeking for attention, I saw his dad handing him the latest mini iPad. He then immediately stopped sobbing and sat quietly swiping away at his new gadget. It raised the question in my mind that “Are parents using gadgets such as iPad and PS3 as more than just entertainment and toys for their kids? Or as substitutes to babysitters?”
At a recent cyber-safety conference in Wellington, it was highlighted that most kindergarten associations around New Zealand had iPads in their centres or were moving towards introducing them. For kids in New Zealand these days, even if they don't own gadgets such as iPad, they will still be likely to come into contact with it once they start their schooling.
As a tech savvy working mom, I have growing concerns about the amount of time my kids spend online and on technology gadgets. So recently, I have started three house rules that I would like to share with you:
No more than 30 minutes to one hour of screen time a day. If I find my kids spending too much time on the computer or on PS3, I’ll read a book with them or get the crayons out to draw with them. Or better yet, I encourage my kids to do as much outdoor activities as possible. Take a look at our kids activities directory for more fun ideas!
Restrict Internet/PS3/iPad time to certain areas of the household. In my household, this area is the kids’ play room.
Encourage more educational and age-appropriate interactive games. Try to aim for something that you can enjoy with your kids. I made a delicious blueberry pancakes recipe with my daughters last weekend using the Easy Chef Recipes iPad App
Below are my top five recommendations of fun and educational Apps to keep your kids busy:
- Red Writing - teaches children below the age of 8 to write the letters and numbers of the alphabet the same way they are taught at school
Maths Bingo - Kids are rewarded with a game when they answer maths questions correctly
Bright and Beyond - suggests interactive activities for parents to play with babies and toddlers
Pocket Phonics - helps children learn to read
Math Farm - solve a maths problem and different farm animals will emerge on screen with riddles and songs
As our technology plays an increasingly important role in our kids’ everyday lives, as parents - we must learn to embrace technology by educating ourselves about new technologies so that we’ll be able to make more informed choices for our children.
Bec is a married stay at home mum who spends most of her time sorting out the chaotic lives of her two daughters, Jessica (7) and Tessa (3). When she’s not carefully coordinating her kids’ outfits, or addressing their notoriously complicated culinary requirements, she likes to share in the busy lives of other parents. After devouring mummy blogs for years, Bec decided to start blogging from her Sydney home last year. She hopes her experiences will inspire other parents and help them feel less alone when things get tough.