From The Washington Post:
I was at a loss.
As I sat there eyeing the small gift box, tastefully wrapped in blue paper with a matching ribbon, I had no idea what to do. The accompanying receipt told me what was inside: a brand-new Kindle Fire – for my 5-year-old daughter.
When my husband came home from work, we stared at the gift together, unsure how to proceed. We agreed that the present, sent by a close family member, was incredibly generous. We also agreed that our daughter would love it – after all, she always asked to play on Papa’s iPad whenever he visited, and she was fascinated by her cousin’s tablet. But she’d never had one of her own, and frankly, the idea of getting her one hadn’t crossed our minds.
. . . .
Suddenly, we were faced with the prospect of our kindergartner owning a tablet, on which she could play games, practice reading, or surf the Internet. On the one hand, it sounded innocent enough. After all, we want her to be comfortable with technology and keep up with her peers. There are plenty of educational apps for young kids – not to mention opportunities for her to keep busy during long road trips or stints at the doctor’s office. Plus, it was a gift from a family member, who wanted to share something special with her during the holidays. We couldn’t object to that.
And yet we had some serious reservations. Talking it over, we came up with a list of reasons we were uncomfortable letting our daughter keep this gift.
There’s a world beyond the screen. I’ve seen too many kids who’ve lost the art of eye contact, their attention perpetually focused on their fingertips. Who am I kidding? You can add me to that group. While I try to resist, I get sucked in way more often than I should. I know how easy it is to center your life on a screen, and lose sight of everything around you.
. . . .
It sets us up for a constant battle. While we allow our daughter to watch television, we do try to limit her TV time to some extent. Yet even those efforts bring on complaints and aggravated eye rolls. I can only imagine the battles we’d have trying to disconnect her from that device – whether for dinner, or homework, or just a chat about her day. Yes, we could set limits on her screen time. But do we really need something new to argue over?
What’s she looking at, anyway? My daughter has (thankfully) outgrown Dora, and is always looking for new shows to watch. Fortunately, with the TV in the living room, I can sit down and watch with her. I can decide which shows are appropriate, and provide context for anything confusing she may see (like how real girls, unlike the Winx fairies, need to wear actual clothing). Handheld devices offer less opportunity for such oversight. I know there are parental controls, but I’m still uncomfortable with a screen I can’t easily see—especially one that’s connected to the Internet.
Link to the rest at The Washington Post and thanks to Sandra for the tip.
PG says this mother should look more closely at Amazon’s parental controls.
In this respect, the Kindle Fire is way ahead of other tablets. Parents can tightly control what children can and can not access. If a parent wants a child to only see specific items that the parent chooses, the parents can select those and block everything else. Customized viewing profiles for individual children can be created.
Some of the younger members of the PG Clan enjoy the Kindle Fire, but, from the start, their mother put strict limits on how many minutes per day each of them can use it.