Those of us with small children in our homes know how much of a blessing it is that we have such easy access to tablets in our lives. Aside from the obvious educational value of these slates, where a simple app will help your son or daughter learn their alphabet or count to ten, they also have the ability to give us parents a few minutes of peace and quiet away from the whining and screaming that we have come to accept as normal parts of our daily existence.
Personally, I bought my son his Kindle Fire when he was a year and a half old and just about one year later I can’t tell you how much it has helped him learning his ABCs etc., and according to his Pre-K evaluators he is ahead of where he should be. Of course this should not all be attributed to the learning apps on his Kindle Fire, I do read to my son, but you can’t argue that they didn’t have some positive effects. I challenge anyone with a toddler to sit down with flashcards for a game of “memory” and not have them end up all over the floor. The flipside of this is having the memory app on your device and watching your child figure it out and whip through that thing in no time.
There are going to be people out there that will say that by giving a child a tablet is no different than what our parents did by plopping us in front of the TV. The argument being this will lead to bad health because they aren’t outside and I’d argue that this is completely different. For instance after the new shine wore off of his tablet, the Kindle fire is treated just like any other (albeit expensive) toy in my son’s arsenal. He will go days without playing with it before picking it up for an hour or two.
That isn’t to say that we shouldn’t be vigilant with how they use their devices however. Sure I rooted his Kindle Fire and locked that sucker down tighter than a drum, but even then you need to be aware of what they can and can’t do. As it stands right now he can only use the apps section as the parental controls allow you to turn access to everything else off, but even then he managed a factory reset not too long ago.
Aside from the parental controls the other thing that you absolutely must do on any tablet or smartphone you hand to a child is password protect the the app store. Even though I have Google Play Store “hidden” on the KF, it can still be accessed and it doesn’t take much to accidentally pay for an app on there.
The other reason to have a password on there is to block in-app purchases. A recent study in Britain found that an average of £34 ($44.71) was unexpectedly added to bills by children purchasing things inside apps, which would add up to £30m ($39,453,023.29) in unwanted annual charges. Further, a staggering 40% of parents weren’t even aware that it in app purchasing was possible.
Handing your child a tablet can be a great thing provided you follow the necessary precautions. So parents, pick up a drool proof case, password protect the Play Store, and put your feet up while you enjoy a few minutes of silence.