In a household where both parents write software for a living, it’s hardly surprising that my two girls have embraced technology from a very early age.
While every member of my household (from two years to 34 years) is now the owner of their own tablet, that doesn’t mean that we are a family of square-eyed, unsociable individuals.
For me, technology is a way of opening doors to new learning opportunities and kids technology is a great way of balancing my children’s creative and academic skills.
My girls use their tablets on average, once a week. They tend to use my iPad a couple more times each week. The fact that I have more apps for toddlers on my own device than I have apps for me is a reflection of how many great quality kids apps there are out there.
There are no hard and fast rules in our house as to when the girls can ‘play’ on the tablet because I like to think that we naturally find the right balance.
We have crafty and hands-on activities available as well as traditional puzzles and wooden toys. All of these seem just as attractive to my children as their tech alternatives.
The art of moderation is to ensure that there are plenty of different activities available.
As a technology specialist myself, I see great value in ensuring children are comfortable and confident using tech and I understand the ways in which my children can aid their learning through technology.
The LeapPad Ultra inspired my five year old to explore space travel and animal care through online videos but that was just the start. Afterwards, we visited the library to find more traditional books to carry on the learning.
I’ve found this a common theme with LeapFrog toys. They have been the starting point for further exploration away from technology.
There is no doubt that we sometimes use kids’ tech as a convenience – often it is far more appealing to let the girls loose on a colouring app than it is to lift out all of our art materials; there is certainly less mess to tidy up afterwards.
But on other occasions you will find my girls happily building a princess castle from bricks, or covering each other head-to-toe in blue paint.
In fact, some of our most played-with toys are simple, bold, long-lasting wooden toys such as our John Crane workbench or our beautiful wooden dolls house.
Life is about balances.