On my 10th birthday, I received my first gaming system, a Nintendo NES. My kids however, were ages 2 and 3 when I began handing over my Droid. I had loaded all kinds of cool apps on there just for them. Flashcards, drawing games, drum kits, anything that would ensure good behavior in restaurants and church. Plus, they were learning. What’s the harm in that?
A year or so later, Will gave me an iphone and hell broke loose. Who’s turn was it with the iphone? Logan had 2 hours! (5 minutes) I only got it for 1 minute! (more like 10) My apps began to disappear or I would find them in strange folders. I found myself longing for a simple flip phone. I can’t imagine a 4 year old getting addicted to Snake.
With the release of Kindle Fire, Will decided it was time. We would be getting the kids their own tablets. I could not rationalize such a purchase for a small child. After all, I had lost the Droid one morning while Logan was using the potty. What was he thinking? Shouldn’t small children play outside? Couldn’t they climb trees and learn double dutch like I did? Seriously.
Will’s argument was that the tablets were inexpensive compared to having to replace an iphone out of contract. Plus, the kids could still use them for educational purposes. Hell, Ky’s kindergarten class was just awarded a classroom’s worth of ipads. The times had certainly changed and I’d better get with it.
It still seemed wrong but there was no stopping him. A 3 weeks ago, 2 Nexus Tablets arrived at our front door. That’s right, the new one. The one that came out just the week before. So new in fact, they hadn’t produced decent cases for the device.
As the kids took their afternoon naps, we set up the tablets. It’s surprising how light they were was considering the power inside. The back was textured for an easy grip. Thank God, I thought. I pushed the power button and began to fiddle with it.
One thing I love about the Google Play store, is when you download an app, it doesn’t immediately kick you back out to the home screen. You have the option to open your new app or continue downloading to your heart’s content. The tiled menus were very different from the thumb nailed lists I had come to know but it didn’t take me long to catch on. We were able to find most of the games our kids love and few old favorites from the Droid.
When you give a child any piece of technology, it is important to set up the controls. Apps the kids shouldn’t have access to were either deleted or password protected. Another password would be required to make purchases. I then became concerned about the internet use. How would our kids only find the sites we’d want them to find? It was really quite easy. Will saved the sites right to the home screen and deleted the browser icons. As a precaution, he downloaded Zoodles- an app we customized to keep our kids safe online.
Finally, Kylie and Logan woke up. They were ecstatic to have their own “phones”. Will had done an excellent job finding games that would really appeal to them. He and Logan have bonded over Angry Birds. For Kylie and me, it’s been neon doodles and cupcakes. We downloaded Kinectimals, a game where the kids care for, train and play with the cyber cub of their choice . There would be no more fighting over Netflix because each child now had their own screen. With so many great apps, I was very surprised by how often I do hear their learning sites being cued up. “Mommy! Mommy! There are 100 pennies in a dollar!” Kylie proclaims.
After the excitement died down, we did have a quick talk with the kids. When they went to bed, the tablets would be turned in for the night. We taught the kids to take care of their tablets and to put them up after use. If Will or I thought the kids needed a break, we could simply say “Take a break.” We are parents and I think in a world of distractions, that’s what kids need these days. It has been nearly a month now and I’d say the Nexus Tablets were absolutely worth it. I have no regrets.