Now, I’m not one to admit when I’m wrong and I never back down on an argument BUT I’m caving in and buying Jude his own iPad for Christmas. Sorry…Santa is bringing him one. And sorry for saying Christmas in October, it’s highly unlike me.
I’m not a technophobe and neither am I adverse to children being able to spend a bit of time playing games on tablets but what I detest, is people allowing their children to have them 24/7. I see children in restaurants staring at a screen rather than being taught how to converse and socialise in this sort of environment, I’ve also seen children in buggies with iPads which I find just bizarre because of the amount of wonderful things they can see when out on a walk. Now, I’m not making a blanket rule here and I’m sure people have perfectly viable reasons for using tablets so freely but, I’m mean and will only let the children have their tablet as long as it doesn’t take over their lives and they don’t morph into mute zombies incapable of expression or comprehension.
Thankfully for everyone involved, our children love being active, exploring the great outdoors and generally being busy so I’m not sure why I’m so phobic of iPad usage.
I’m quite lucky at the moment because our iPad is broken. It has a set entry passcode and yet again, Jude has put in the incorrect number too many times so it has permanently disabled (ironic use of language there Apple!) I will get it fixed but in the mean time, my rather archaic feelings towards technology is safe in the knowledge that the children cannot melt their brains through watching endless YouTube videos or by playing potentially directionless or somniferous games for hours. I think that’s my problem; I’ve always wanted them to have games and activities that can help them progress in some way and I, up until recently, could not see how a tablet could be used as anything other than a time killer or a free babysitting service.
But how wrong am I?!
I have been looking into reasons why iPads are not evil and how they are actually particularly useful for disabled children. Here is my conclusion in list form:
- iPads do not need you to have any particular strength so the touch screen really suits a child like Jude who has poor dexterity and even poorer fine motor strength. He can touch the screen with any particular force and it will respond.
- The apps can be as simple as you like and the ones Jude particularly enjoys, such as shape sorters or object/number ordering, help him to problem solve and learn to work things out for himself. Apps often function in a naturally sequential way so he needs very little support in managing them.
- They help Jude’s verbal communication. When he has his iPad, it stops him getting trapped his routines and gives him another focus to his time. He often chats more openly through prompts on the screen (i.e. what he’s playing, what picture he’s made, colours, shapes, etc) and this allows him more material with which to fire up a conversation.
- Calming. Jude can sit and play games on the iPad for ages and it helps him to centre his attention on one thing and thus not run around like a lunatic for a short space of time.
- Some apps can teach children fantastic lessons. For example, Jude could learn to make music compositions by way of indication on the small screen rather than potentially feeling daunted in front of a room full of instruments and people. I know it isn’t “real life” but for Jude, if this isn’t an option then on screen is just as good and if it boosts his confidence then who cares?!
- Confidence. Amazingly, despite his delayed level of understanding, Jude feels embarrassed at times and really hates to attempt things he isn’t familiar with. An iPad activity could give him the chance to try something new on his own, with no fear of judgement. He could trial a new skill and when confident, express his understanding to people around him.
There are so many other reasons why I need to just suck it up and let Jude have an iPad more often but these are the ones that initially spring to mind.
Does your child have an iPad? Are there any particular apps they use most frequently?
I know I’ve mentioned it before but I’m going to do a bit of research this week and fill the iPad with apps for Jude. Now being me, they’ll have to be apps that serve a purpose and that will help him develop in some way however I’ll try and loosen up a bit and free the rein when it comes to iPad access.
What are your thoughts on iPad usage for children? Are they a good thing?