Parenting

Parenting by iPad - good or bad?

Friday, November 11, 2011
Parenting by iPad - good or bad?

My 9-year-old may never pick up a hardcover book again (other than his text books). He's discovered the iPad - or MY iPad. And I must admit it's a great device for reading books... even children's books. But when he's not reading, he's using the iPad for other things like watching movies or playing games.

Certainly the potential benefit of these high-tech gadgets is obvious. They can be powerful learning tools just as long as the content is age-appropriate and designed for learning.

But recently the iPad as a children's tool has come under some scrutiny. A Wake University psychology professor says interacting with such devices doesn't replace the one-on-one, face-to-face interaction with people. In fact, she says it could discourage young children from being conversational.

I've seen instances where the iPad is nothing more than an expensive toy for children... such as a family in a restaurant or on a airplane, trying to keep their youngster occupied by letting them play or stare quietly at the devices. And certainly my 9-year-old also has various hand-held video games and it does come in handy in keeping him busy in certain situations.

But at some point all parents - including me - have to ask themselves if they're somehow bribing our kids to be good with high-tech, flat-screen media.

Some parents say it's better than just sitting kids in front of a television set. Others say there's nothing wrong with it as long as there are limitations on its usage.

There are no easy answers when it comes to parenting by iPad. All kids are different and, whether we like it or not, these devices are ubiquitous in our society and will continue to be. So I'll remain vigilant in my search for educational apps, but even I can't turn away from Angry Birds from time to time.

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