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Stop Blaming iPads for Your Child’s Poor Health
There is a lot being said about iPads contributing to poor health in children. Some claim there are even studies.
Wait? What? How are there studies? The iPad is not even 10 years old yet. How can there be a study linking a child’s health to iPad usage?
Anyway, this is sort of my rebuttal to a blog post I saw from a mom who does not allow her children to use iPads or tablets of any kind.
The irony is I tried to offer my rebuttal several times as a comment on her blog post, but it kept failing. Well, I will get the last laugh!
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Last Friday we went for a little hike in Hubbard Park, just 3 miles. As expected the princess started complaining about half way through so she didn’t walk the whole thing. Isaiah and I have done more on this hiking trail…at least 4.5 miles. These are the times they remember when they get older. #tbt #throwbacktuesday #FatherSonTime #family #familytime #fatherdaughtertime #mykids #myfatherinlaw
Why I Allow My Children to Use iPads, Smartphones, Computers, Game Consoles and even an Old-Fashioned TV
Let me start with a tip. Do not buy your child a brand new iPad. If you do, purchase a case made worthy of Fort Knox credentials.
We are living in a technology age. In the next few years, we will see more autonomous vehicles controlled by devices become more mainstream. We are already able to control numerous household devices from a few clicks on our phone. We track almost everything from a device that fits in the palm of our hands.
Most of us cannot get through the day without our smartphone. It has our schedule, communications, tracking, to do list, reminders and more. Some of us even check on our pets on our phone.
Programmers and developer jobs are increasing at a rapid pace. So are jobs in information security.
Technology is here to stay and evolving very quickly.
I used to do a lot of on-site tech support. In a nutshell, I would go to someone’s house or office and help them with their technology needs (really wants).
A lot of my time was spent teaching high school and college-aged children how to perform simple tasks on a computer.
If you were born in the late 90s or later this should not happen. You grew up with computers.
The mentality that iPad and tablet usage is bad for children is very wrong. Not allowing them to use these devices will put them at a disadvantage.
Many schools now have iPads or Chromebooks in the classrooms. They use them for school work. Now I know my kids are not using the iPads for school work for the most part (when they’re home), but they are learning to use the device.
They will not be at a disadvantage.
What Do I Allow My Children to do on the iPad, Tablet or Computer?
Let me start with the rules. They are as follows:
- They cannot use any electronics on school days unless it’s for school work which is very rare so far
- On non-school days they are limited to 2 hours maximum
- There are certain tasks that need to be completed before using any electronics
- Take care of your chores
- Practice piano or any other extracurricular activity you participate in
- Any homework that is not completed yet
- Usage of electronics is governed by household rules. Meaning if you are grounded for any reason then you are not allowed to use electronics.
- No phones, iPads, tablets or other electronics at the dinner table. This applies to parents and guests as well. This also applies when we go out to eat.
They use the iPads primarily to play games or watch videos on YouTube. It’s not really that different than my generation. We grew up playing video games, talking to our friends on a landline phone for hours and watching a ton of TV.
They do use apps like ABCMouse and Epic.
They do occasionally (mostly Isaiah) take pictures and record videos. Isaiah wants to start a YouTube channel, but we are still talking about it.
We have conversations with our kids about expectations and the dangers of the internet. I am not naïve. I know what is out there. Education is the best defense.
We closely monitor their usage. I do have software installed on their iPads to monitor usage and the iTunes account is in my name, so I know what is installed and uninstalled.
They are not allowed to chat with anyone other than family and a few select friends. Yes, this is monitored.
The YouTube account is also in my name, so I know what they’re watching (and annoyingly enough subscribing to). Izzy (my 4-year-old daughter is only allowed to use YouTube Kids, but this is still closely monitored because stuff can sneak in.
They use one of my laptops. It is refurbished and has Fedora (Linux) running on it. I prefer this because it teaches them there is more than Windows or Mac in the computer world. They only use the computer for ABCMouse (Izzy) and learning to code (Isaiah).
We are planning to get Isaiah a Chromebook. It just has not happened yet.
For some, the rules might seem strict. Well, these are the household rules.
Rules teach children that there are boundaries. They also teach respect for authority.
Yes, my kids do chores.
Yes, there are limitations to everything, just as there should be for adults.
Yes, we monitor their activity. Not because we don’t trust them but because we don’t trust the creeps outside our 4 walls.
But iPad Use Leads to Obesity and Other Ailments
Just stop it. Seriously, stop it. This is a big fat lie (pun intended). If anything, Izzy and Isaiah are underweight. They are both skinny. They are both very active.
Isaiah plays baseball and is pretty good at it. Izzy takes gymnastics and we’ve been told she will excel at it. They both take karate.
Neither one of them walks anywhere. At best it’s a slow paced job but most of the time it’s a full-throttle sprint.
They have other extracurricular activities. Isaiah plays piano (for 4 years now). Not once has someone said he should stop playing piano because it may lead to carpal tunnel syndrome or arthritis.
The plan is to have them play basketball this winter.
We go for hikes on a regular basis. We go for walks around the neighborhood. They routinely hang out in the backyard just running around.
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Sometimes keeping up with these 2 is a mission in itself but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Side note, over 20k steps as of 6pm today. #mykids #mykidsstars #family #mykidsrock #mykidsmylife #love #mykidsmylove #kids #mykidsrule #mykidsmeantheworldtome #mykidsloveit #mykidsarerad #mykidsarebetterthanyourkids #mykidsaremymotivation #mykidsfirst #saturday #saturdayvibes #saturdaythings #walking #exploring
They pretend to help with yard work or shoveling snow. This usually just leads to more yard work or shoveling snow for me.
They use every piece of furniture in the house as a trampoline. Isaiah uses the house as his own Parkour gym.
We play board games. I am teaching Isaiah chess now.
If you think using an iPad leads to obesity, then it is because you are not teaching your kids that there are other things in life besides videos and games.
One of the roles of a parent is a manager. You do have to manage your children’s time, as rigid as that might sound.
People do not like the word manage but an unmanaged child can become a problem.
What Not to Do Regarding iPads and Tablet Usage for Your Kids
Stop using the iPad or smartphone as a babysitter. Don’t say you don’t. We are all guilty of this. We are trying to get something done and our child is driving us crazy. What do we do? We hand them our phone, so they leave us alone.
We have all done it. It might be a phone, an iPad or the TV remote but we have done it.
I see it all the time when we are out. Parents hand their kids a phone so that they are not making noise or are left alone. The phone is a babysitter and not a good one at that.
If you do let them use a device then limit their time and monitor their usage. Be honest and let them know you are doing this. Don’t try to be sneaky about it. Trust is important.
Teach them about what is out there on the internet and why you are monitoring their usage. They will be more likely to come to you when something does happen.
Set rules for iPad usage. Set the expectations for them being allowed to use any media.
Make sure games and videos are age appropriate. Our kids are pretty good about this on their own. Izzy just wants anything with My Little Pony. Isaiah sometimes tries to push the envelope, but we push it back.
Why is My Child Unhealthy?
Stop blaming everyone and everything else. Start looking internally. If you let them sit for hours and hours and hours with an iPad, then that’s why they’re unhealthy.
If you let them eat junk and candy all day long, then that’s why they’re unhealthy.
If they never go outside and just lie around on the couch all day then that’s why they’re unhealthy.
I know some kids have pre-existing health conditions like asthma. I know some are more prone to being obese. I get that there are allergies out there. That should not stop you from getting your child involved in things or being active.
I have had kids on my baseball teams who had asthma. My son has seasonal allergies from May 1 to May 31, like clockwork. This is the heart of his baseball season. He still gets out there looking like Will Smith in Hitch. He still hustles like a pro.
Go for a walk every other day. Take them on a bike ride. Go for a hike. Play a board game. Talk to them.
I also recently signed my children up for Kiwico. It’s a box subscription for age-appropriate STEM projects.
This gives us a chance to sit down and work on a project together. It really is a lot of fun and a great learning experience.
Doing anything excessively can be harmful to a child’s (or adult’s) health. Ipad usage is not the reason a child becomes obese unless you let it. It’s not the reason for other health issues unless you let it be.
They used to say the same thing about sitting to close to TVs (You’ll go blind). My vision is not what it used to be, but I am far from blind. They used to say the same about video games. I do not have carpal tunnel syndrome or arthritis and can type with the best of them.
Be an active parent and your child will be active.
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Thanks #Google for taking an picture I took and giving me this. Pretty cool. My son at the Hartford Yard Goats stadium during one of his #baseball camps. #baseballlife #baseballislife #baseballplayer #baseballgame #baseballseason#baseballfan #baseballtee #baseballlove #baseballfield #baseballs #baseballtraining #baseballplayers #baseballdad #son #myson #fatherson #prouddad #blue #futureking #futureceo #futureMLB