Sunday, 5 August 2012

Are you ready to give your kid a 'Tablet' ?

A week ago kidlet's school had a meeting where parents were told that iPads were bad for young minds and arms. Expectedly so, there were murmurings all around at the debatable decree. Though the teachers went on to state that they were not saying 'not-ever' but rather 'not-now'.
Brought me back to ponder our own decision to not get an iPad - for us, the home or indeed the kidlet. It was not a well thought out, all pro and cons weighed decision to be very honest. Actually the decision was hardly one to be made at all since we are a very techno-ambivalent family who are likely to be unexcited about anything gadgety. However, there were social pointers all along (at least since the last two years) kids around us were raving about this new 'toy'. Conversations were about the latest apps. Local newspapers started running features on best educational apps. And the killer - playground mothers claiming sharp jumps in vocabulary and math skills- all thanks to fantastic apps!
I was tempted to think about it for a wee bit of time. But one feel of the iPad and my tiny kidlet's wrists and the decision was easy to make. And there we let it rest. Thats until - I went and got myself an iPhone! On our trip to the US this year - the only time we got unlimited access to super-fast WiFi - I downloaded a few 'educational' apps. None the wiser about popularity of these things I just trusted the star system to choose. Kidlet was predictably very happy and it took her almost no time to figure it out. At first I was very impressed at how fast she picked up the game (it involved addition and subtraction - concepts still new to her). Also, come on - what a fantastic baby sitter! I could suspend imagination in my book and she could be soundless for stretches of time en-gripped by her game. I can see why its so easy to get hooked.
Back in India with the lousy net connection on my phone and the aforementioned gadget unfriendliness, the addiction to the games fortunately died a slow and natural death. But to be very honest it did make me wonder- what's the harm in learning a few new things through technology? After all that IS the way forward - if not already the way. And there are so many things out there that kids pick up that you and I, on an ordinary day would not even fathom acquainting them with?
The meeting the other day in kidlet's school made me start thinking again. How early is too early? How much is too much? And are our inhibitions based on evaluations of benefits/dangers or are they just schema based on our own childhood experiences and what we have been taught to believe? Wish there was an easy answer to that.

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