Urban Dads loves technology because it can be super helpful in a lot of ways. Here’s one of my favorite kid-friendly technologies, the tablet, and how I use it in our everyday life here at the Urban Dad household.
Tablet and Technology Usage
Research shows that kids shouldn’t use things like a tablet too much and I agree. I try to read more to my daughter than sit her in front of her tablet with video or games. But I do let her play for an hour or two a day. For her second Christmas I bought her a Kids Kindle Fire. The reason I did that is because they are chocked full of great content for kids. PBS, Nickelodeon, Disney, Dora, Daniel, Peppa, all gathered on one piece of tech that can be used everywhere. The tablet’s great in the car when she’s freaking out about something, which she doesn’t really do with me often. Or at an office or shop or laundromat when we are out taking care of errands. It helps occupy her mind when I can’t give her my full attention.
Learning with a Tablet
The tablet is also great for learning. There are tons of apps for learning the alphabet, counting, beginning to read and hand eye coordination. Many of them have some fun element to them which helps kids learn. Also, the Daniel Tiger thing is great, as this study states.
Children who watched Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood exhibited higher levels of empathy, self-efficacy (basically, confidence in oneself in social situations), and the ability to recognize emotions than those who watched the nature show. There is a kicker, though. In order for kids to benefit from watching the show, their regular TV-watching experiences had to be accompanied by frequent parent-child conversations about media content.
I sit down with my daughter at the mid-point and the end of Daniel Tiger episodes and we talk about it for a few minutes. I like to have her give me a run down of what the episode was about. Then I ask some pointed questions about the message that the episode is trying to transmit.
This has really helped, I think, with potty training, compassion and empathy for others, and how to deal with frustrating events. Of course, she’s a three-nager. She will still have some meltdowns as she learns how to deal with stress and situations that don’t go in her favor. But I’m very pleased with her emotional and mental growth this past year.
A Tablet is not a Babysitter
I hear this comment made, usually by non-parents. I agree, it’s not a babysitter, it’s a diversionary tactic. If those non-parents spend any amount of time with a toddler, they’ll realize how much attention they actually require. At times, like when I need to get an article done as a freelance writer in my home office, I need something to distract my daughter so I can get it done.
That’s not a bad thing, provided that the thing, in this case the tablet, is not detrimental to her in the long run. I will, after having to work for 30 to 60 minutes, go sit and read books with her for the same amount of time. This works. She’s really learned a lot from the educational content on the tablet, and she has an intense love of reading. She also has an incredible imagination. I say that because she will go into her room and play with toys and when I check on her to make sure she’s fine, I will sit and listen to the stories she is telling. Some of them are highly entertaining, and I tell stories for a living!