More and more parents are buying their toddlers from age two and up iPads, as a source of entertainment. Some parents may even argue and say that they let their young toddlers use it for educational purposes, whilst others will openly admit that the iPads help give the parents a chance to breathe, and possibly talk to one another with being interrupted by their children.

Cars even come with special iPad holders for children to stay amused, whilst being driven somewhere. Toddlers are engrossed on iPads in restaurants, at home, in the shops whilst grocery shopping with mom, so much so that they forget to be kids. They now forget to do many childhood things from reading books, painting, drawing, telling imaginative stories, through to fantasy role-playing and building gross motor skills by being outdoors and staying active.

Downside of unlimited iPad usage

More and more young children grow up not learning basic social skills, having social anxiety in public settings, and do not communicate their thoughts and feelings freely.  I have been a drama teacher for over ten years, and I have noticed that as the digital era increases, and iPads and smartphones have been made accessible and more kid friendly, that children are struggling with a few basic life skills. From spelling, through to forming full cohesive creative concepts, basic language and interaction skills.

That is why I fully believe that all schools should invest in the performing arts, as means of encouraging everything from creative role-play, communication, through to healthy group interaction with peers.  The arts develop and encourage communication, basic life skills, and how ability to socially engage and work with others creatively.

Less iPad and more creative play

My three and half-year old son was only introduced to an iPad this year, and we only let him use it for educational and creative purposes on weekends for a very limited time that is monitored at all times. Therefore, he doesn’t see the iPad as his toy, or as something that he needs all of the time. Instead when we are out in public settings, he greets everyone, he is confident and expressive, and communicates articulately. I want him to grow up with all his senses engaged and stimulated by being active, outdoors, enjoying creative role-playing to nurture his creativity and emotional intelligence.

Now, of course I think the iPad can be fun, and can be used for educational purposes to, but toddlers shouldn’t be on their iPads for hours on end, every single day.  It should be used as a way of distracting them or as a means of keeping them quiet. Often as parents we feel that we need to keep our toddlers entertained when they feel restless or look bored, but letting them feel bored is one of the best things you could let them feel.

Why?

Because through boredom, they start to think of creative ways that they could entertain themselves. As parents we can encourage them on this process, by setting up crayons and paint for art projects, through to block or Lego building, or having an array of role-playing props for them to get lost in their imaginations.

What we do today with our kids, impacts their tomorrow, and shapes their character. Therefore, as parents we need to know that we allow in our day-to-day impacts and shapes our little people, who have been entrusted into our care. Choose wisely, and monitor screen time by limiting it time wise, and encourage creative play.

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