Is an iPad OK for a toddler? The good and bad of tablets for young kids

< type="image/webp"/>A small child with a bottle and a blanket sleeping next to an iPad Air 2

Roger Fingas / Android Authority

Like it or not, parents are frequently warned about the dangers of allowing children to use phones and tablets too much. Sometimes this is based on legitimate evidence, such as Meta’s (internal) admission that Instagram can harm teenage girls’ self-esteem. At other times, these warnings are based on idealized versions of how children should grow up: a happy vision of them finishing homework so they can play in the park instead of jumping into Fortnite or Minecraft.

My wife and I have a preschool-aged son, whom we will call Gary for the sake of privacy. Shortly after he was two years old, we made the decision to give him a tablet, in this case my old iPad Air 2 after upgrading to an iPad Pro (2020). A few months later, we even bought him a barebones iPad 2017, as one of the main reasons I upgraded was the Air 2’s poor battery life. That allowed us to swap out one tablet while the other was charging.

Related: The best Android tablets for kids

We both had reservations about giving him a tablet. We wanted to avoid any unhealthy attachments and make sure that he at least occasionally learned something. In fact, learning was the main goal, ever since we discovered that he liked to play counting on my wife’s phone. We also wanted you to dive into computer technology as quickly as possible, as those skills have become important not just for a good career, but simply for everyday life.

However, the pandemic forced us to expose Gary to his iPads more than we had planned. While a vaccine for children under the age of five is just around the corner, it is not yet approved as of this writing. That forced us to keep him out of daycare, especially with specific medical problems that could make symptoms worse. It was also not a difficult decision given that both my wife and I work from home.

The result has been an inadvertent experiment in what happens when you give a young child a smart device for hours. I would classify the result as great and a disaster, albeit weighing a bit more towards the first camp.

Why it is a good idea to give a tablet to a young child

< type="image/webp"/>Elmo Loves ABCs on an Android iPad or tablet

Roger Fingas / Android Authority

Gary really took advantage of a ton of educational apps we installed that have helped him learn numbers, letters, counting, and drawing, among other skills. One app that was a huge hit was Elmo Loves ABCs (Apple App Store | Google Play Store), which taught him various skills in the same place and rewarded him with cute Sesame Street videos. As a bonus for us, it was a practical way to track his development – he went from being unable to understand games or drawing letters to doing everything with ease.

Both games and YouTube videos have taught you about the world, including animals, cars, space, and more complex concepts.

Of course, we also teach Gary away from his iPads, but he amazes us with how much he learns on his own. Both games and YouTube videos have taught him about the world, including animals, cars, space, and other concepts. Recently, for example, he started talking about things that “go through the vortex”; He’s a bit confused about what a “vortex” is, but the notion that a preschooler even knows that word is mind-boggling. She reads many words at sight thanks to the videos, her parents and her always patient grandmother.

Almost more impressive is how fluid it is with smartphones and tablets. You don’t log into app stores or enter URLs, but you can browse iPadOS with minimal effort. You even know how to change the volume and brightness with the Control Center, or search for apps that aren’t on the home screen, much to our chagrin.

See also: Things iOS does better than Android

Why giving a tablet to a young child is a bad idea

< type="image/webp"/>A little boy with a bottle watching YouTube on his iPad

Roger Fingas / Android Authority

Gary has become very dependent on his iPads. She often asks for her “black iPad” or her “yellow iPad” (depending on the case color) when it’s time to play, and tries to keep using it when she’s supposed to have breakfast or dinner. While he won’t fight if you take an iPad from him, he’ll let out an angry growl if he doesn’t understand why.

Your dependency is so strong that it can be difficult to get you to sleep without one. It can be done: Custom sleep video playlists on a small TV seem to help, but he’s unhappy enough to give in to the pressure.

The most worrying thing has been its usage habits. While he still occasionally plays games and watches educational videos like Blippi or Super Simple Songs, he gradually gets caught up in YouTube’s algorithms and now spends many hours a day watching nonsensical videos. I mean useless – we’re talking about builds of car dashboard starts or objects run over or thrown into a shredder. On brand for Android AuthorityOne of the favorites is a compilation of animations of the Samsung logo, with basic audio and video effects to drive them crazy.

Related: Every YouTube app and what they do

You may be thinking that we should limit Gary to YouTube Kids instead of the regular YouTube app. In fact, we did, and sometimes you use the Kids app to watch things like Blippi. But he found that YouTube was not too difficult to access via Apple’s Safari browser, which cannot be removed from iPadOS. While you can remove it from your home screen, Gary is smart enough to realize that you can access it through the app library.

Found that you can access YouTube through Apple’s Safari browser, which cannot be uninstalled.

We will try to block your iPad even more by blocking youtube.com in the iPadOS Settings app, in the hope that you won’t throw a tantrum. Eventually, you will get your own Apple ID, which will enable the strictest parental controls and at the same time allow you to use the apps that we have purchased through Family Sharing. We should have started with that second route, it is true, and we will probably go in that direction in the future. But having to create a new Apple ID, set parental controls, reset two iPads, and then redownload a bunch of apps is a time-consuming endeavor, especially when there are more pressing issues like learning to go to the bathroom or trying new foods. .

We are also trying to reduce your dependency by limiting your iPad time. He still has his iPad most nights, but now he has less time with it during the day, the idea is that toys, books and even television are preferable to what Gary wants on YouTube. He’s unhappy about it, but it’s worth it for his mental development.

So is an iPad okay for a young child? What can we learn from giving a tablet to a preschooler?

< type="image/webp"/>The Apple logo on a 2020 iPad Air

Oliver Cragg / Android Authority

If my wife and I started from scratch with Gary, we would not only block youtube.com from the beginning, but we would set a fixed schedule for the iPad, and nothing after 8pm. The rules would set clear expectations for when the devices are acceptable and They would force him to appreciate other, hopefully, more educational ways of having fun.

However, the tablets have proven to be a positive result in terms of education. While there are minor issues with his CDC milestones, he is actually at the forefront in several areas, especially when it comes to technology. I’m not saying it’s a prodigy, just that its iPads have helped, without major setbacks. If anything, the inability to socialize much over the past two years has been the biggest problem. Children need each other to model their behavior and learn languages.

Read more: Best Android Parental Control Apps and Other Methods

You’re probably thinking that you should have anticipated some of the problems and solutions I mentioned, particularly as someone in tech journalism. I actually sympathize with that point of view, but as many people will attest, parenting is often about adjusting to your child’s personality while juggling hundreds of different things at the same time. What seems obvious in hindsight was out of sight when there was a mess to clean up or an ouchie to fix.

Regardless of whether you are a parent or not, would you give a preschooler their own tablet?

12 votes

Above article first published by . We curated and re-published.