We spent Thanksgiving at my in-laws’ house. It was a nice, but short visit. During some food-prep downtime, I decided to bring out some more books for my son to get into. He was teetering, dangerously, on the “I’m bored and that shiny, breakable thing over there is talking to me” fence.
When I went to my bag, I pulled out one of his train books, yes. But pulled something else too: my iPad. I brought it over to QB and his face lit up. He clapped his hands and said, “I-Boom!” A mix, I gather, of iPod, iPad and room, as in bedroom, where I often keep the iPad “hidden” in the wide drawer of my night table.
Then he went on to wow the onlookers—Gammy and Grandpa Burton, along with his Auntie R and Uncle J. I decided to hang back; I had already seen the show.
My son’s little nimble fingers danced around the print-smudged iPad screen. Swipe here. Touch that. Shrink this. Move that there. And play those apps like he made ’em. His audience was thrilled, mouths agape. Tickled by the sight of this little guy manhandling this gadget.
Through some wonderful job perks (my husband’s) and remarkable generosity (my brother’s), we are fortunate to have not one, but two iPads in our home. [Side note: They really are as fun and incredibly cool as the commercials make them out to be. I am exceedingly grateful to have one. Thanks, again, Sean!]
Now, QB’s tech gadget resume dates back to mid-2009, when, like so many babies at that age, he took a liking to our cell phones. His father’s was simple to master. It’s not a smart phone, so learning how to change the ringtones was a cakewalk for him. He moved on to my phone, a BlackBerry, and was soon calling folks up, randomly and at unseemly times in the early morning.
A few months later, he spotted my iPod Touch. (Yes, this is a very Apple-y household.) This was a challenge … for about a week. He quickly figured out how to swipe, touch, unlock, and, unfortunately, delete things on my ultra-modern music player.
But watching him make his way around the iPad—a merry-go-round crammed into a tablet computer—is pretty special. The counting games, spelling lessons, interactive storybooks, high-pitched sing-alongs … even how he whips through photo slideshows, pointing out the people, places and things he knows. It makes me laugh.
It makes me proud.
It makes me think this latest crop of kids is going to run circles around us.
As much fun as all of this is, I’m not 100 percent sold on “full immersion” when it comes to kids and technology. I definitely watch how long and how often my son plays with these tech toys. I mean, he doesn’t watch TV yet, so why would I be OK with him camping out on an iPad all day? It’s not his babysitter. Not even close.
I wholeheartedly believe in old-fashioned playtime (books, make-believe, LEGO, wooden trains, etc.). And I think there is something to be said for letting kids be bored sometimes. Clicking on the television or shoving a Gameboy in their hands before they can add yet another syllable to the word “bored” isn’t the answer.
While I refuse to tell someone else how to parent, I’m also not about to judge you if 20 minutes of Yo Gabba Gabba! gets you and your family through the day. Do you, mama. I just know what my plan is, and hope to stick to it—while remaining flexible when it’s clear that I need to be.
In the meantime, we’re gladly getting our I-Boom on ’round here. And wowing grandparents while we’re at it.
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This is post number 101 on Ms. Mary Mack. I’m pretty pleased with this fact.
Plenty of hard work went into the last 100 posts, and I want to take this moment to thank you for reading, sharing and commenting on all of them. It’s a brand of kindness that encourages me, leaving me smiling and grateful.