I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville writer with a passion for family travel, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark. Want to get in touch? Use the CONTACT form at the top of the page.
April 10, 2013
Like many kids his age, my son is completely obsessed with Angry Birds. And Hay Day. And Temple Run. And any other game he can get his sticky little jam fingers on.
He plays the games on my husband’s iPhone, which my husband lets him borrow for a few minutes each day after he gets home from work. And at first, using my husband’s phone satisfied him. But inevitably, my son soon began asking for his own iPhone. Or! Even better!
HIS OWN IPAD!!
C’mon. An iPad for a kindergartner?!
“You are waaaay too young for your own iPad, Bruiser,” I told him. “Ipads are $350. They’re computers. And everyone knows a six-year-old does not need his own computer!”
“But Jasper has his own iPad!” my son has insisted. “And so does Isabella! And so does Tommy!”
Bruiser is known for ‘moonshining’ as we call it, and so at first, I didn’t believe him. But as time has passed and I’ve gotten to know Jasper, Isabella, and Tommy and all of their parents a little better, it’s turned out that my son was speaking the truth. Those kids do have their own iPads. And they’re far from alone. At the home of one of my 8-year-old daughter’s friends, everyone in the family got his or her own iPad for Christmas. And now that my son is clamoring for an iPad to call his own, I’m suddenly noticing kids playing on iPads everywhere I turn. At the YMCA. At the doctor. In the backseats of cars.
And I’m starting to feel like the meanest mother in the world.
Because there’s no way I’d buy my 6-year-old his own iPad. Or my 8-year-old. Or my 10-year-old, when I have one. Or my 12-year-old. I understand that there are great educational apps for kids available on the iPad, and I have a few on my own iPhone that I pull out as a last-ditch way to keep the kids entertained on errands or in waiting rooms.
And I understand, sort of, the idea of having a family iPad that everyone shares, which means that the kids will sometimes be using it. I’m assuming that’s some of what I’m seeing around me.
But I also know that a bunch of kids out there have iPads of their very own, and I just need to know why.
Will you please tell me why? Why is this a good thing? Because I really don’t understand, and I’d like to. Why does a six-year-old (or 8-year-old or 10-year-old) need his own iPad? WHY?
I’m sure Bruiser would be very appreciative if you could HELP ME SEE THE LIGHT.
Image via atomicjeep/Flickr
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At a local private school in Nashville, kids 4th grade and up are REQUIRED to own an ipad for school purposes. That would be 9 year olds owning and responsible for an ipad. Agree its crazy.
Ugh. Honestly, the only way I’d buy one- ever- is if it’s being used for school/work purposes, or if the kid contributed much of the funding him/herself. I’m just really concerned that my kids are going to form a dependence on this stuff, which, wonderful as it is, has really screwed up the enjoyment of REAL LIFE for most adults, myself included…
I’m the worst person to ask — I bought my 7 yr old an iPad mini for Christmas….reason being I got tired of sharing mine. The biggest reason that I used to justify it was: traveling (kids at different ages want to watch different movies/shows) and I got TIRED of complaining. Pretty weak justification but it worked for me. Surprisingly, once the novelty wore off he doesn’t use it for “games” that often — a rousing game of Minecraft with his buddies (who are all on their own ipads or itouches) and maybe some sports games but it’s very little. He’d still rather be outside playing street hockey or basketball. I guess I’m lucky that way as i don’t have to really set limits since it’s not an issue.
Sounds like it’s working for you guys! 🙂
I would like to know why as well. We’re going to let our 12 year old buy one with his own money that he’s been saving. I still don’t see the point of a tablet at all though. I would just glue it to an end table and play 2-player Ms Pac Man or some old school Atari games with it, otherwise I can use my laptop, my desktop or my phone for whatever I need.
I think there’s value in letting your 12-year-old save for one- If an older child buys one with his own money, I think that’s pretty awesome- AND he’ll really appreciate it!
By virtue of us working in telcos, we have 3 iPads in house. None of them bought – I would never pay that much money for entertainment device. But now that we have it, I like it. But, in terms of kid-use, it is mixed blessing:
– new boundary for literacy IS being proficient with iPads, iPhones, Facebook, Minecraft… as much as it is not contributing to true “philosophical” advancement as reading/writing was, it is still state of the nation. I have to suck it up.
– some apps are available for edutainment, but overall, educational value (beyond point 1) is slim. This is entertainment device, after all.
– kids using their OWN iPad means you can read eBook on yours at the same time they are quiet for significant stretch of time. Only meaningful reason for me for kid to have its OWN iPad on top of mine.
– entertainment during trips and errands is both good and bad: good, as not all of the everyday parent things are exciting to kids; bad as kids grow up with expectation that there is something exciting every.step.of.the.way. Talk about misplaced expectations. My generation was able to sustain 5 hour car trips with nothing more than looking through window and poking your siblings. I’m afraid nobody knows what this “always-on” expectation is making out of our kids brains.
– iPad is much more flexible than DS or PSP, and new apps are coming in every day. Multiplayer mode of most of the games gives kids fake sense of belonging, and sometimes contributes to their status in school (if their school friends are taken with particular iPad game). Also, novelty factor is constantly refreshed as kids are moving to “new” game every month or so (also good and bad). Games on iPad are for most part cheaper than Wii or PSP, but on flip side, internet/parental controls are completely lacking.
With all above, as I said, we do have kids iPad (being free). It is however, locked with pin code and we installed timer on it, so kids have to “earn” iPad time, so it is cheap way to provide reward for all those do-chores/get-A/do-practice/be-nice-to-sister type of incentives. So I guess I’m pro-iPad (or pro-DS/PSP/whatever flavor is there), but see no big upside in having more than one. But my kids are still elementary-school, so this view will likely change as they get older and whole “social” aspect of iPad becomes important. And yes, my kids are not clamoring for it that much anymore – new games on Wii are currently in focus. (apparently, as long as it is new, it is interesting, see point 5).
I love this answer, Marija. Thank you for a thoughtful response that contains pros and cons.
Seeing how smart our Japanese and Chinese engineers are at work- thanks to being around and using technology from the time they were babies- I might let my kids use one early-on.
I don’t get it either. We have friends whose kids have their own ipads, and my 6-year old is gunning for one of her own, but yeah, it’s not going to happen in our house either. We have one ipad, but it’s mine in name only. My husband bought it for me for my birthday a couple of years ago, but we all use it occasionally (the 6yo least of all). I just see no good reason why my particular 6yo needs one all for herself.
Glad I’m not alone! I don’t have anything against a parent that buys an iPad for their kid- I just don’t really understand why so many parents are doing it right now. I’m honestly wanting the reasoning, because I feel like I must be missing something.
My 12 year old has an ipad 2 (older model) and my 7 year old has a mini. Both were gifts from relatives – no way would I have spent that money! And neither has 4g, they are wifi only. I’m appreciative that they have them though. The 12 year old has used his quite a bit instead of a computer for research on school projects and even the 7 year old likes to look information up. We also buy the older boy’s reading list books as ebooks and he reads them on there which I like- ebooks are usually cheaper and I don’t have to worry about him losing them or the bookstore being out of stock. The ipads don’t get used too much to play games except during car trips or while sitting in a waiting room which I’m okay with. My younger son does spend some time on his doing math worksheets on websites that his teacher recommends. If he’s doing it on the ipad, he seems to think that math is fun. The best reason, at least for me, for the boys to have their own is that I do all of my own reading on my ipad Kindle app and now I’m not sitting in a waiting room with nothing to do while the boys entertain themselves on mine 🙂
This is my alternate worry- that my kids will somehow end up behind because they haven’t learned to research/type/do cool Internet stuff like their classmates have. PARENTING. UGH.
It’s not a concern for us at the moment since our kids are 3 and less than 1. But for now our agreement is our kids will be older before they get their own computer-like devices. We both just know too much about the internet. And as technology becomes more and more normal in everyday life we’re trying to be conscious of having face to face time with the people around us. So we have tried to limit the presence of tech in our home. We don’t NEED more than one of anything right now and the addition of any device is always thoughtfully evaluated. We’re just in a place where we’ve been redefining “need” in our lives. We’re open to changing as life changes but we’re not just gonna jump on any old bandwagon that comes along.
I think technology definitely requires some thought when parents decide what they’re going to have in the house. Good for you!
Good for you! Stand your ground. My daughter had a classmate in fourth grade with her own laptop, iPad and iPhone plus I think an iPod touch. That girl is so spoiled!
My 12 year old has Nook Color she bought with her own money. My 8 year old has a basic Nook she received as a birthday gift from my mom who got it free with a new set of tires. The only iPad in the house is mine and it was a hand me down from my sister. The girls can use it with permission and I have been known to bring out my iPhone out to them for a long wait in the doctors office.
My thought is that if they are getting iPads at six, what will they be expecting at ten? The latest iPhone of their own? At 14, their private MacBook with their own printer in their room? At 18, their own 70 inch flat screen so they never have to leave their rooms?
I have an Ipad mini and the DH has an iPad. We both have kids games and learning apps on our ipads. Most of the time we are fine with the kids playing their games on our iPads. We have “kidproof” cases on both ipads to protect them from the inevitable drops.
But gitting their OWN?! Nope. Not happening. First of all, the expense. My 9 year old does not need a $500+ piece of electronics of her own when there are 2 viable options in the house for her. She just got her own iPod (which is really just a hand-me-down from me) — she can play games on it and play her teenybop music on that when we are in the car or in a waiting room or whatever. She is currently annoyed with me that I wont add text abilities to it — but again, she can text her friends on my phone just fine!
In high school when there are truly academic reasons for it and she can actual understand the expense vs caring for the item balance, Maybe then.
But yes, we have friends whose kids have their own Apple products list of things — and yes, i am also in the Meanest Mommy Ever club.
I agree that kindergarten is too young to have their own. I don’t think it’s a bad thing for older kids though. We have a 9 and 12 year old and they both have devices. I think it’s fine as long as they can be responsible for taking care of it, you monitor the time they spend on it, and monitor what they are doing on it. Also as long as they know the value of money. Our kids save their allowances for their devices and occasionally will get one as a gift.
Our kids use a lot of technology in school so I think it’s just natural to have that at home now too. Our schools use ipads and laptops a lot in class. My 12 year
old’s text books are online (they have real text books that they can
take home too if you don’t have online access) and several homework
assignments are online for both our kids. As they get older it’s easier for them to have their own laptops or tablets to do school work on especially when both kids have online assignments, research, or typing to do, which is often in our case. All of us use our tablets for reading as well. My 12 year old also uses his laptop to program computer games, operating systems, and develop apps. He’s a techie kid and we want to encourage his talents.
My kids (ages 6 and 9) both have iPads – that they saved for (for 2+ years each) and paid for themselves. Each receives a weekly allowance equal to his/her age and each of them showed amazing restraint and left 95% of those funds in the bank each month. They each did the research and determined which was the best for them. The 9YO (who bought hers about a year and a half ago) timed her purchase to take advantage of getting a refurbished older model when the newest models were released. The 6YO bought his a few months ago and opted for the mini because it was less expensive and he wanted to keep money in reserves to buy apps/games as he wanted.
Now, do they get unfettered access to these devices? Heck no. Each gets a half hour a day of screen time. Sometimes that’s on my computer, Sometimes it’s on an iPad, some times it’s playing on the Kinect or Wii. Additional time is granted for exceptional behavior, road trips, sick days, etc.
I’ve seen how my kids treat their devices and I’ll tell you that they take care of those things better than any toy anyone else (or Santa) has given them. They learned the value of setting a goal, staying focused and taking care of their stuff.
So, my advice? Let Bruiser get an iPad, but make him pay for it.
I love this, Nancy. This is exactly how I feel. Great advice. Bruiser can SAVE for an iPad if he wants one so bad. And a half-hour a day of screen time is perfect.
I did the same for my 8 year old, she had to save for a LOOOONG time before she got her IPad Mini. I told her if you share it with your sister I will pay for half of it. But if you want it all for yourself I am not contributing at all. and guss what? she chose the latter option.
One good thing about having the IPad? Is that she does her homework and any chores much faster because the way it works at our house, she earns her time on the Ipad by doing homework, cleaining up her room, doing chores aroung the house, reading. And she even choses to bank her time so instead of just doing half an hour a day, she can bank them and play for longer twice a week.
If she does learining games or reads on it I allow her to use it anytime.
Well, we’re considering getting one for my almost-11-year-old son this summer. The school he attends (public school) is very technology forward and students are encouraged to use their devices for learning and keeping their work/assignments organized. My husband is a die-hard Mac person, but Mac laptops are way too cost prohibitive for us right now to buy one for a child, so the iPad (or possibly the iPad mini) is the next best option.
Good point with older kids- An iPad is definitely a less-expensive alternative to the full-fledged Macbook for school…
At least they are probably pretty sturdy for kid use — did you see on the news today where an adult man left his lying on his car and drove away and it flew off and hit the front of another car, damaging the car and imbeding into the car at an angle about a quarter of the iPad, but the iPad still works!
Also, many young kids with their own iPads may have hand-me-downs from parents that always “have to” get the latest model whenever another one comes out.rather than it being exactly a conscious decision to spend so much for something a kid doesn’t really need.
I don’t have children so I can’t really say, but I don’t even have one myself. Neither does my husband. We are retired and can’t spend that kind of money. What amazes me is how parents can afford all these iPads when we are supposedly suffering from such a bad economy. I was on a plane and saw a family with three kids all in a row, each on his/her own iPad. It was keeping them quiet and busy, but all I could think about was the expense!
I have an iPad that I let my son play on sometimes. I don’t think he needs his own, and I’m sorry, but a 6-year old “saving” for a sophisticated electronic device isn’t a real lesson in math I could teach because my 6yo thinks 500 pennies is equal to 500 dollars. I think that saving for something you really want is an admirable quality, but that’s not my real beef with young children having their own iPad. My concern is that an iPad gives them access to the internet, which is a world they are not ready to navigate without heavy adult supervision. I always put restrictions on when my son plays, but he is still able to see videos on YouTube that do not reflect our family’s values. The value of the iPad is in waiting rooms, or in similar situations where it can help my son be quiet or patient. But, these are short term situations. Also, I don’t think he is going to fall behind technology-wise. It’s very easy to figure out quickly. And props to the person who pointed out the expectations you set them up for later on down the road….an iPad at 6…what about when they’re 10?
Same here, my children’s 4 cousins each have their own iPad, the youngest being 6. Can’t begin to describe the situation we find ourselves in when we happen to spend time at the grandparents’ all together. Scary. But we stand our ground and why? Hum. Let’s see… 400 €, £, $ whatever, that’s a very first good reason to me!
We have enough problems with the hand-me-down laptops we have given the two older ones when they each turned 12, no way are we going down that path with more game-incentives… And you know what, the same 2 oldest children, now 16 and 15, are starting to see and understand our point of view. They comment on the non communication, no interaction they get from their cousins, friends, whenever they are together under the same roof. They are… shocked and even show some appreciation towards our choices. Grudgingly, but they do !
Here’s an article I just read…http://abcnews.go.com/Business/give-kid-apple-ipad-holidays/story?id=21033685
Just came across this article. I’m currently considering getting an inexpensive mini-tablet for my 8-year-old daughter. ($160) It’s not because I feel she’s entitled. It’s because by getting her one of her own, I’ll be able to put much, MUCH stricter controls on it. If I put incredibly strict controls on mine, which she borrows from me at times (always within eyesight), then I’d be limiting the functionality of it for myself. I looked into the possibility of password locking particular downloaded apps on my own computer, but it’s currently not a feature that’s available. (You can only restrict the apps that come with it.) This all came about because I discovered she was being very sneaky and leaving YouTube comments right under my nose, using my account because I was logged in. All tech is being removed for a week. We’re already on a pretty strict tech diet. She’s really learning to make use of that Rainbow Loom of hers now! 🙂