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Are there some benefits of tablets? Or are we parents bound to have a guilt trip every time we let our small kids use one?
I happened to read an article where one mother listed all the benefits of reading books to toddlers. She also wondered why so many parents resort on screens (phones, tablets, TV's, etc.) and not doing the proper thing.
"Who's she to judge me?!" I thought to myself.
Don't get me wrong here. I'm a big proponent of books. We've tried to introduce our kid to as many books as we can (for some unknown reason he's especially fond of texts about poker basics).
That said, our toddler started to watch TV when he was about one year old. And that happened after I had read John Medinas "Brain Rules For Baby." He argues that it would probably be safest to avoid the TV for the first two and a half years...
Sigh, we couldn't help it. Our one-year-old treated books as a change two test his strength and teeth. Ripping pages was an especially annoying hobby. And the saga has continued. The other night I left him in his crib with one of his favorite books. When I went to check him, he was happily sleeping on a pile of paper bits.
So while books may be all you need if you have a little angel at home, they may not always be enough for more active kids. And many parents probably agree with me. Studies in different developed countries show that about 20% of young children already own a tablet.
I do sometimes feel guilty of letting my toddler have a daily screen-time. This feeling becomes more pronounced after reading similar articles to the one I mentioned above.
So I decided to list the benefits of tablets for parents
More Relaxed Home Environment
Sometimes you need a little quiet time to rest from a stressful day. It's so simple to put a table in front of your kid and let him watch some cartoons or have fun with games.
Unless he's sitting hours in front of a screen, there's no reason to feel guilty that you are using modern technology to ease your stress. Ultimately less stressed parents are also beneficial for the child's development as the home environment is more relaxed.
Socializing With Other Adult
Dining with your friends can too so much for your well-being. You probably haven't seen them for a long time. Some of them may even think that you've moved out of the country after your baby was born. But there's one problem...your hyperactive toddler.
One of the benefits of tablets is that you can easily carry it with you. Just take it out and let your little one watch some cartoons when you're catching up with old friends.
It's worth noting that we have been taking our boy to restaurants since he was an infant in a vain hope that this will make future visits less tiresome. I spent my last restaurant visit running after my hyperactive boy and probably stayed only 15 minutes at the table to devour my three delicious courses.
The one time we didn't take a tablet with us!
Healthy Home-Cooked Food
My wife loves to make food at home (although once a week we treat ourselves and order a takeout). But cooking becomes almost impossible if your toddler insists on grabbing all the needed utensils and hugging our legs. And then there's the added danger of hot stove.
One benefit of a tablet is that you can use it in every room. So our little one can stay in the kitchen with us but watches cartoons in a safe distance from oven.
This lets my significant other to prepare a wholesome meal for the family, which undoubtedly is also useful for our kid.
Housework Goes More Quickly
As it happens, our toddler is obsessed with a vacuum cleaner and follows it like a hound. Which creates problems if we want to get the job done quickly. And then there are these other small tasks like emptying a washing machine or ironing clothes.
We usually do all the work by including him so he can learn these things. But if you are in a hurry, then the tablet is your savior. You'll get the things done twice as quickly if cartoons or games occupy your kid.
Traveling Is Easier
As I've noted earlier, books may be enough to keep some children sitting on buses, trains, or airplanes. They surely aren't enough for us.
One benefit of tablets is that they can carry many hours of cartoons and a lot of games. So you keep your little one occupied even if you have a longer trip ahead of you.
More Interaction With Your Kid
You may be surprised, but a study in Norway found that parents interact more with children if they play interactive games. Mothers talked more with their kids, encouraged them, and applauded them.
Parent-child interactions are essential for proper development. The benefit of tablets is that the games are less boring for adults than traditional games.
Some Final Thoughts
As you can see, I find tablets beneficial for children and parents alike. So there's no need to feel guilty to have your younger children have some screen time. That said, there are a couple of important points to make.
Don't let a tablet be a "virtual babysitter" for your kid. For example, our toddler usually has less than 45 minutes of screen time per day. J.Medina has even argued that ideally, children shouldn't have it at all before they are well over two years old.
The question isn't so much about "how?" than about "what?"
It's all about the quality of content that your kid is allowed to see. So make sure that the cartoons are age-appropriate and don't let him explore Youtube unsupervised. The best programs are the ones which enable you to interact with your kid. This is also the reason that age-appropriate interactive games can be a good option.
Happy guilt-free cartoon watching! And in case you are wondering, we’re using the simple iPad (check the latest price on Amazon)