Why We Let Our Kids Use iPads Regularly + 20 Best Toddler Apps
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Shhh! Don’t tell anyone, but I let Junior play on the iPad
Whenever fellow parents mention any situation where their child was “exposed” to an iPad, it’s quickly followed up by “but he only uses it for 5 minutes a week”. Whatever, guys, we all have laundry to fold, dinner to make, phone calls to answer, and work to be done. If there’s an iPad in the house, we all know that your kid has used it. What’s the big deal?
We all grew up in the evil era of the TV. Just as we are bombarded by information we really don’t need on things like SIDS, secondary drowning, and how we are ruining our children in general, our parents were bombarded by too much information on the evils of television. We grew up with rules that revolved around how much TV we could watch a day (30 minutes? 1 hour?) and when (only if we eat all of our veggies and finish our chores) so it’s natural to attempt to impost the same reasoning to iPads. We’re forgetting that iPads are a completely different animal. Instead of casting an evil shadow upon them, why aren’t we using them as a tool?
Us old people of the “over twenty crowd” just doesn’t get it
Technology is here to stay and will be an important part of our children’s generation. This is only the beginning for them. Imagine what they will create with knowledge of crayons & blocks + tablets & connectivity. We literally cannot imagine what the next generation will create having known these devices all of their lives. Remember watching your parents struggle with their first PC? That’s how we look trying to attach a photo to an email on our iPad. The technology isn’t going anywhere. It’s pointless to hide from it. Remember the old adage “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em?”.
As a work-from-home mother of irish twins, I needed all the help I could get. I would never be able to run a real estate business while being there for my family without the mobility of technology like my iPhone & iPad so it was pretty natural for me to “work” alongside my daughters when I had to get contracts out or respond to clients’ needs.
At first, I just saw the iPad as a necessary evil that I could use to do what needed to be done. Providing for your family with your family in tow is a tough, tough task. But then I noticed what my daughter was gaining from what I only saw as games. Now, my older daughter is an extremely focused and motivated child so she learned things more quickly that most, including my younger daughter. That being said…
“i” is for iPad
I did my best to teach her the alphabet, numbers, colors, and other basic skills as time and energy provided. When I had to pull my attention away to tend to my business responsibilities, I’d put on a game or YouTube video for her to play like anyone else out there. First it was animal noises, which she learned immediately. I could literally ask my 9 month old what sound a zebra makes and she would say “Whoo Whoo Whoo”. I mean, seriously, what normal adult knows what sound a zebra makes and here’s a baby who not only knows the sound, but can mimic it. Then she got into alphabet videos on YouTube. Before I knew it, she had memorized the entire alphabet. Then came numbers, colors, shapes, you name it. By her first birthday, Chloe could hardly speak, but could identify all 26 letters of the alphabet and count to twenty. I’m absolutely not exaggerating.
Our kids to get to play games on their iPads as well. Now that they are pre-school age, there’s plenty of time spent on Disney “Appisodes” which are only of light entertainment value, but they also choose to play education games like Endless Alphabet and puzzle games. Now my 3-year-old has beginning reading and writing skills and even knows basic math concepts. Whether I’m sitting down with her or letting her work on her own, she is truly developing important skills. We may forget that unlike television, iPads are interactive. A toddler that is seeking out learning activities independently while a caretaker is taking care of other tasks is well ahead of a child who doesn’t, right? I’m only one person with my own aptitude. I may be great at building, selling, and decorating homes, but I’m not a natural teacher. I appreciate any help I can get, even if it’s from a “game” in an iPad.
Now both of our children have their own iPad Mini’s. They use them for entertainment and education in the mornings when we are making lunches and getting everyone ready for the day, on long car trips so they can each pick an App that suits their interest and skill level, and during quiet times when we need them to settle down and stop climbing the walls. When we were growing up, we usually didn’t get to use these spare moments to gain knowledge and skills.
I will embrace technology wherever it is practical and beneficial. I’m not ashamed that my kids each have their own iPad as pre-schoolers and that that use them regularly. In face, I’m proud that I found a way to use iPads to educate my children during moments that I couldn’t afford them my full attention. I think it’s wonderful that my kids have clean clothes, a sane mother, and are ahead of their classmates with school skills. Why should I be embarrassed about that?
Just “in case”
I cringe whenever I see a 2 year old using an iPad or iPhone with no case or a flimsy case. We invested in Otterbox cases (although today I’d get a LifeProof) and I’m soooo glad that we did. iPads are tougher than they look, but they do get dropped, spilled on, and generally mistreated by those who don’t appreciate the delicate nature of screens and microchips. They aren’t cheap, but neither is a replacement iPad when junior uses it to catch his fall “like, the day before you were going to buy one”.
Quality Apps matter
We’ve downloaded plenty of free and “lite” versions, but kids and grown-ups alike are quickly frustrated with the ads and limitations. It’s better to have a few great apps than 10 pages of crap that makes your kid want to chuck that iPad. You shouldn’t need to spend much and there are great free games out there. Here are some of our favorites that range from FREE to about $7:
- Endless Alphabet – Originator Inc.
- I Hear Ewe – Animal Sounds for Toddlers – Claireware Software
- Intro to Math, by Montessorium – Montessorium, LLC
- PBS KIDS Video – PBS KIDS
- Petting Zoo – Animal Animations – Fox and Sheep GmbH
- Grandpa’s Workshop – Fairlady Media
- Endless Reader – Originator Inc.
- Endless Numbers – Originator Inc.
- Little Digits – Finger Counting – Cowly Owl Ltd
- Rumble In The Jungle – An Interactive Book by Giles Andreae and David Wojtowycz, with audio reading by Hugh Laurie – Hachette UK (BP)
- Wee Alphas – Wee Society LLC
- Bebot – Robot Synth – Normalware
- Disney Junior Appisodes – Disney
- Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Play at Home with Daniel – PBS KIDS
- My Talking Tom – Out Fit 7 Ltd.
- Peek-a-Zoo HD – by Duck Duck Moose – Duck Duck Moose, Inc.
- Press Here: The App – Chronicle Books
- Eric Carle’s On the Farm: Animal Sounds and More – Publications International, Ltd.
- DRAWNIMAL by YATATOY – Lucas Zanotto
- Peekaboo Barn – Night & Day Studios, Inc.
So, please tell me that now you are ready to proudly proclaim “Junior practiced tracing letters on the iPad all morning” instead of hiding behind your screen-time guilt. Everything in moderation, right? Get your kids outside & active, feed them right, spend one-on-one time with them, and let them learn some new skills with this great new tool we have at our disposal without embarrassment!