How Do You Introduce Technology?

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Before our girls were born, I remember reading the AAP’s recommendation that children under age two not have any TV / screen time.  I felt like that seemed reasonable.  When the girls turned two, I stepped back to consider our TV policy.  Our days felt very full with blocks and books and crafts and playtime at the park, so I decided not to make any changes to my approach.

Over time, I developed some convictions that – in my mind – extended from that line of thinking.  By in large, I’ve stayed away from electronic toys altogether.  The girls’ kitchen makes some noises when they “sauté” something on the stove, and they have a small electronic piano, but we spend very little money on batteries during the course of a year.

I know there’s a time and a place for everything…and different things work for different families…but to date I haven’t felt like my girls were missing any developmental opportunities without TV / technology at their disposal.

But…

Our girls are now 4 ½.  I feel like it’s time we introduced “technology” to them.  And I have no idea where to start.

Last year, the girls attended three-year old preschool two mornings a week, and they’ll have a similar schedule this fall in four-year old preschool.  I know they have limited exposure to iPads.  That’s really my only baseline as I have tried to start shopping for something for our family…and the options seem pretty overwhelming.

Ultimately, I find myself asking, What is it I hope that my children will get from using technology?

I know that there are endless apps one can purchase…ones that focus on letters and numbers and geography…and I’m sure there are a million others.  The little voice inside my head questions, though, that the girls have learned so much, and so easily, to date without the use of technology.

But if there’s value in self-exploration – in the form of apps – will a Nook, or a Kindle, or a Leapster suit our needs as well as an iPad?

Or, is what our girls really need at this age the exposure to navigating technology?  And if so, would the iPad, with the more universal “language”, be the better investment?

Obviously, cost weighs into this decision.  I can easily buy two Nooks for the price of one iPad.  And that, of course, brings up another question…to share, or not to share?

So…I’m looking (as I always do!) to the awesome community of MoMs for some advice.

What do you see as the overarching benefit of technology for the preschool age group?

Do you have one medium (laptop / iPad / Leapster) for your kiddos, or does each kiddo have his own?

MandyE is mom to 4 1/2-year old fraternal twin girls, A and B.  She blogs about their non-technological adventures at Twin Trials and Triumphs.

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MandyE

MandyE is the mother of 4 ½-year old fraternal twin girls, Baby A and Baby B. (And yes, their names actually start with the letters A and B!) She worked in the marketing field for nine years before her girls were born, but these days she’s relishing the opportunity to be a SAHM, which she plans to continue until the girls start kindergarten. MandyE has been blogging at Twin Trials and Triumphs since her girls were a year old. Between her blog and her local Mothers of Multiples group, she considers the multiples community a huge part of her support system.

5 thoughts on “How Do You Introduce Technology?”

  1. I wish I’d been proactive enough to think these issues through ahead of time! My in-laws gave the girls each their own internet-equipped tablet (Samsung Galaxy) for Christmas when they were 5. I had no idea how to set up appropriate internet access/screentime rules for them. I mean, they were *5*! I didn’t have a tablet of my own at the time!

    My daughters are allowed to play games on their Galaxies, and I have signed into my Netflix accounts, but their total screentime (including TV) is limited to a couple of hours a week. Using their tablets as dictionaries or for research doesn’t count against their time. We’ve talked a lot about online safety, and now that they’re old enough to be aware of this blog, I show them ways in which I am open and honest, but still steer clear of giving details that would allow strangers to locate us.

    I’ll be watching this thread with interest!

  2. Kudos to you for going as long as you have! It’s been my idea to stay away from TV/screens for my two as well, but they’re only 10 months. Like you, we mostly stay away from battery driven toys with a few musical exceptions. I haven’t much thought about te future though and I think you bing up some very good questions. I think my answers will depend on how much will change in the next couple of years! But as far as I can tell we would have one community tablet or whatever. But then it goes back to modeling expectations, and if mommy and daddy each have a phone, why doesn’t each kid have a device? Anyway, good questions. I’m interested to see what everyone else says!

  3. I’m a big fan of technology. We have iPhones, Apple TV, several laptops, and of course the iPad. It was a Christmas gift to ourselves one year, but of course now Toddler claims it as hers. There are days (when I’m busy with the twins) that I feel she’s on it too much, but really she’s taught herself English with it. The other morning I discovered she knew all her letters only after she started naming the letters in a document I was reading. I tested her later with some flashcards and indeed she knows all the capitals and all but a couple of the lowercase!

    I suppose that story shows I don’t monitor her use of the iPad, but she has so many apps and Netflix and games that each her all kinds of things. I wouldn’t be surprised that someday soon she’ll be teaching *us* things. I’ve deleted the YouTube app (though it’s good for finding obscure Mandarin shows) because of the “related” videos that show up, and we’ll probably have to get something to lock some things down when she becomes interested in the internet for example, or just get her her own tailored for her.

    Anyway, I think all these things are helping her become literate in technology. As it is I only have to show her once how to navigate through the screens and she can do it herself from then on. I think this is the world we live in now. The twins will each be getting their own iPads (mini) too, and probably sooner rather than later.

    I’d be interested in what others have given their children, as iPads (even minis) are quite costly :)

  4. I didn’t have any screen time for my twins for the first 2 years. Mine are almost 4 now and I just recently got an Android tablet for 1 of them who was a lot more interested. That was a mistake, I should have gotten 2. As soon as one had one…

    I think the tablet is a great learning tool and also great for quiet time. Our preschool teacher actually recommended some apps. I know IPads will be in their classroom in elementary school – I saw a demonstration of how the first grade teacher uses them. Technology opens up the world to kids and I support innovative ways of teaching and engaging kids beyond traditional books and “reading/writing/’rithmetic.” I’ve heard it’s also a tool for special needs kids and those with developmental issues.

    To me the idea of limiting screen time has to do with health, getting exercise, and avoiding over-stimulation or inappropriate content. My twins are very physically active, and they certainly don’t play wargames or zombie killing or anything. I choose all the apps, they’re only educational or helping with motor skills. For me the bottom line is I stay involved with what they’re exposed to and what they’re doing.

    The cost isn’t for everyone. I chose a $70 tablet and it was fine for kids – I also got a protection plan which I highly recommend because it got broken and was replaced. I know there’s a huge range of options and costs. Everyone needs to make smart choices about that but I’m happy to have the technology in my twins’ lives.

  5. We didn’t let our twins watch tv for a long time, and they weren’t really able to sit through a whole show for a long time anyways. But, now that they are 3, they could sit through hours of tv watching, if I were to let them. We also have an iPad mini, one for the family, but it is primarily my husband’s. He’ll set an alarm on there to wake him up in the mornings, and read scriptures on it (taking it to church with him), read news articles, but also play some silly games. We’ve let our children play games on it too, but we generally supervise them, and then they will end up fighting after like 15 minutes, so it gets taken away anyways. We never let them use the computer, though they are starting to take an interest in using the mouse and clicking on things, and love using the computers at the library.

    My personal philosophy is less is more. I want my kids to be kids. They will have plenty of time for technology later, and it won’t take them long to figure it out. I do think movies are useful, and have helped my kids learn their alphabet and such, but moderation is always the key.

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