Ask Sassy: The community speaks! How much is too much tech for kids?

In Kids & Tech, Tech by Guest Writer4 Comments

kid with ipadLast week a new product prompted us to pose a question to you on Facebook: “Do we have to have an iPad strapped to everything, even a stroller?”

I want to take it a little bit farther.

How much is too much when it comes to kids and digital devices?

Many of us have allowed or encouraged the use of digital devices by our children, and not just for educational purposes. Raise your hands if your kids are under 5 and even have their own tablets or phones or other touch-screen gadgets that they play with when you need them to can it.

Listen, I didn’t want to do this, but I am going to use the “Back in my day…” argument because it’s a good place to start.

My kids aren’t babies anymore, but I remember all too well the incessant whining and attention-grabbing they would turn on just when I needed to have an adult conversation, or eat a meal at a table, or stand in line in an orderly fashion at Target. Back then I didn’t have a touch-screen cell phone, so I had to resort to more primitive methods of distracting the children so we could get through something. And every time I found an easier way, I used it.

Moms today get easier and easier tools dangled in front of them all the time. When you are sleep-deprived and on your last nerve, you’re sure as hell going to stick that phone or tablet in the baby’s hands so you can finish the phone call or read the label on a package of gluten-free cookies.

Ten years ago it was Baby Einstein. Now it’s Dumb Ways To Die. I mean, moms hear “you’re letting your child [insert guilty parenting cheat here] too much!” all the time, right? What difference does it make if it’s the TV or the tablet?

Mobility. You can pop a phone into a baby’s hands as soon as she is able to grasp objects with them. You can use it in the car, at the store, wherever, not just limited to home.

So beware. Children’s affinity for a digital device starts early, and you might find yourself relying on the electronic babysitter too often. The kids get older, develop the ability to talk, and with it, the ability to whine for the little screen. They see you using it all the time: while you’re making them dinner, as you’re talking a walk, and even when you’re retiring to your bedroom for the night.

So maybe you want to go easy on starting them off with a phone/tablet addiction too young. Be mindful of how much your children see you using one, and try to rely on it less for “babysitting.”

Here’s what some of our Savvy Sassy Facebook friends had to say:

Watch and rollWe asked: Do we have to have an iPad strapped to everything, even a stroller?

Laura Fransen That is ridiculous. Kids need to be unplugged and taught to enjoy life without electronic distractions.

Franki Arnold No. Absolutely not. Let your baby enjoy their surroundings — the grocery store, the park, wherever you are — they don’t have to be glued to a screen from the get go. It’s not healthy.

Valerya Rose Baker My kids don’t use my iPad. They play games on their LeapPads sometimes, and my oldest is starting to play the Wii U. But phones and iPads are off limits for them. Also, I agree with the other two ladies, when the kids are outside, they enjoy it by actually experiencing it. They don’t “endure” it because they have entertainment on a screen.

Carrie Ross  I think technology is wonderful. I know I couldn’t live without it. It’s an extremely useful tool for SO many things in life… Including learning. However, NO. Absolutely NOT. We don’t need iPads and tablets attached to everything. UNPLUG! You can’t experience life staring at a screen. It’s a wonderful thing to see my little one experiencing things in a store. Colors, people, noises, etc. I can’t wait for all this snow to be gone so I can get my little one outside to experience grass, trees, the squirrels, birds, dirt even! REAL life things.

Katie Young Lehuta Watching the world around around them is educational – we are gonna end up raising a generation of idiots that don’t know what to do with themselves.

Erin Stern Why even have a stroller where your child can face you if you aren’t going to engage with them?

Deanna Doherty Desarro No. In a stroller while outside for a walk is too much. I have let my kids use my phone while in a stroller at the store so I can actually shop without a bunch of whining.

Sherri Kuhn Seriously, this bugs me to no end! Saw a mom on a beautiful trail with so much to look at and an iPad in her 2-year-old’s lap.

The Beverly Hills Mom The ONLY reason I can see to have it would be in an airport or something where you’re held captive.

Like us on Facebook to see other comments or continue the discussion right here. What’s your family technology policy?

Send in your problem for Sassy to solve, whether it’s a parenting question, relationship dilemma, or a snafu with social etiquette and it may get answered in a future column. Sassy is here to help! Submit your question for Ask Sassy here! (Or just email me, darling. We can keep it between us. You can also follow me on Twitter or like my Facebook page, where I share pro tips on life every week.

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This post was written by someone who we think has some pretty savvy ideas! We love sharing creative, informative and fun things form guest contributors!

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  1. I don’t see what the big deal is. As parents we are constantly having to set limits. How much junk to eat, how late to stay up, etc. I let my children utilize technology, like everything else, in moderation. Sure if you plan on just plopping your kid in front of a tv or ipad or leap pad or whatever it is, then yes using these things as a “babysitter” seems insane. But there’s a time and place for everything right? I would gladly get this product and use it if my toddler starts flipping out and I need to finish grocery shopping or printing off copies at Kinkos. My kids know there are limits. And rules. Maybe people who are so against things like this are actually just scared to set limits? It would be like saying “I’m never giving my kid candy because then they’re just going to whine and ask for it again!” Well yeah duh! Of course they are. And guess what?! It is our job as parents to set limits while still allowing kids to enjoy all sorts of things. Not to mention there are plenty of educational apps and shows for you to engage with your children WHILE watching anything, in or out of the house.

  2. Thanks for piping up Natalie! Sounds like you’ve got a good head on your shoulders. It’s the parents who don’t that I fear for!

    Now, can I please have some candy?

  3. I -ahem – Santa got the grands tablets this year. The kids use them in the car on the way to and from school (half hour drive each way), when we go out to dinner it’s nice sometimes to have them occupied while the adult discuss business or world issues. As soon as the food comes, the tablets are put away and the “kid” conversations begin.
    I understand the idea that the “addiction” starts early and have seen some signs of it myself in my grand son, I guess it really is up to the individual parent.

  4. kid has an Ipad, yes and uses it to make little instagram videos. I do not like her on it all the time and since she is out of the house A LOT and NOT on any device, I let her spend time on her IPad when she is home.

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