You love your kids, and most of the time you enjoy being around them. But let’s face it — there are times when you really need a break. Maybe it’s after binge watching “Dora the Explorer” with a fussy preschooler who isn’t feeling that well, or picking up your son’s sippy cup for the millionth time.
In order to keep your young ones safely and happily occupied while you enjoy a cup of coffee, read a book that does not include pictures of smiling blue trains or try to load the dishwasher in peace, you really want to hand them a tablet or smartphone. At the same time, you don’t want to feel like you are using electronics to essentially babysit your kids. Like many things in life, tech for toddlers comes with a list of pros and cons. To help you decide what to do, check out the following points.
Pro: Not Necessarily a Waste of Time
One of the biggest arguments against screen time for tots is that it is a giant toddler time suck. You might have personal experience with this as you poke around Facebook and emerge an hour later wondering where the time has gone. Fortunately, as Raise Smart Kid notes, tablets are not inherently bad in this regard. There are plenty of educational apps that help even the youngest kiddo learn letters, numbers and shapes. For example, ABCMouse.com offers a free app and learning academy for kids ages 2-7, and if your toddler adores puzzles, he or she will probably love the free Puzzingo app.
Pro: Great for Practicing Writing and Drawing
Some phones and tablets come with styluses that even young kids enjoy using. It gives them valuable practice in learning to hold a traditional crayon or pencil and can also encourage them to draw or trace letters. For example, the Galaxy Note 7 is a great option for young kids because it comes with an S Pen stylus that allows them to practice writing like they will eventually do in school. As a bonus, the smartphone is spill resistant, which means that if your little one’s apple juice spills all over it, the phone won’t be down for the count.
Con: It’s Addicting
All of those bright colors and cool sounds and the ability to control things with a swipe of their little finger can add up to toddlers constantly clamoring to play with your tablet or phone. While you might be fine with having your tot try out a game or app while you are making a business call, you don’t want your son or daughter glued to the screen all day. Remember, you are the boss and you can limit your kiddos’ screen time to certain special occasions, like mommy needing 10 minutes to take a shower — 15 if you decide to shave your legs. If your toddler whines for the smartphone at other times, distract her with her usual toys and books and remind her that it’s not screen time right now. Even young kids can grasp this idea, as long as you are consistent with it.
Con: Prevents Kids From Learning to Amuse Themselves
With the dozens of fun and engaging games and apps and activities literally at their fingertips, you might be concerned that your young kids will never get to experience the joy of gazing out a window watching the clouds drift by, or find ways to keep themselves occupied using their imaginations. While this is definitely a valid concern for kids who spend a huge amount of time a day with a tablet or phone, shorter bursts of tech time will still allow plenty of opportunities to learn and explore.