What to Do When Your Kids Ask for a Tablet

You’re trying to decide what big gift to give your kids this year. You know, the gift the will make their eyes light up or cause them to run around the room screaming, “I love Mommy!” But, what to do when your child begs and pleads you for a tablet? Should you buy one or not?

Why You Should Get Your Child a Tablet

Technology enhances our lives in so many ways–why deprive your children of becoming true digital natives? There are tons of great apps designed to help your kids learn. Interacting with a screen can also come in handy for kids who have difficulty with social interactions.

Use tablet time as a reward and teach your child responsibility and self-discipline. Use tablet time, new games, or e-books as a reward for doing chores or getting good grades. Kids often struggle with delayed gratification (as do many of us adults), and instant technology doesn’t really help with that. But as parents, you can use a tablet to help your kids learn how to prioritize their time and get things done first. Ask them if they would rather have 15 minutes before they do the dishes or 30 minutes after. You might be pleasantly surprised by the answer!

Why You Shouldn’t Buy Your Kid a Tablet

Tablets come with a downside, too. It shouldn’t surprise you that excessive screen time is linked to many childhood issues, including attention issues, sleep problems, obesity, and poor school performance. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under two stay away from screens on a regular basis.

Additionally, the blue-light from every screen can have long-term effects on our vision, but especially with tablets. Too many parents treat a tablet as a babysitter, and substitute it for interaction with their kids. If your child still insists on one, consider making a compromise.

Meet in the Middle with a Kid-Friendly Tablet or e-Reader

Although most “adult” tablets like the Kindle Fire and the iPad have parental settings, there are many tablets specifically for kids. These tablets are (sometimes) a little less expensive and far more likely to survive a drop. Younger kids especially will benefit from fun and educational games.

If your child wants a tablet for reading only, consider getting an e-reader like the Nook GlowLight or the Kindle Voyage instead. These tablets are created with e-ink, and are much easier on the eyes than blue-light screens.

Don’t forget to ask yourself these questions before you make your decision:

Are they mature enough? Listen to your instincts on this one. Age is meaningless if your child is responsible enough to treat expensive items with respect and care.

Are you willing to set boundaries on your own tech usage? Chances are, your child has seen you glued to a screen at some point. This will inevitably come up when you set boundaries on their tablet usage. Be prepared to explain why your usage is different, and consider cutting down on the Facebook browsing.

What are they using it for? Before you buy a tablet, consider why they want it and what the primary use will be. For research or recreational reading? For games and browsing the internet? This will help you determine what your child really needs, not just what he wants.

Should your child contribute to the cost? If your child is old enough to do chores, consider having her work and save towards the cost of the tablet. She might take better care of the technology, and recognize that it takes time and effort to earn rewards.

Too often, technology gets a bad rap when it comes to kids. And although it’s hugely important to set boundaries for your kids when it comes to screen time, tablets can be an amazing learning and discovery tool. Just make sure your kids get outside, too.

Are you buying your kids a tablet?