Man, Dad, Runner, Chief dog walker

Technology for toddlers

The lady of the manor: excuse me you’re not allowed to use my laptop

Matilda: but I don’t have my own

The lady of the manor: well that’s because you’re 2!

Sound familiar? I know we’re not the only ones with toddlers who love to use technology and why not when they see us on our phones and laptops all the time? If we’re doing it then it must be exciting right? I work for a tech company so I know full well how things are evolving and how much technology is going to be a part of our children’s lives.

Matilda using a iPhone

Just texting my friends

However despite all this I still feel a little uneasy. Matilda turns 3 in April and we’ve been debating what to buy her. One option clearly would be some sort of tablet, something we can set up with programs and apps that are suitable for her rather than her trying to use our phones.  I have no doubt developing these skills is important as she’s likely to need them as she goes through education and then into the workplace.

But does she need to do that already? Is it perhaps more important that she develops the essential skills like playing and imagination first before technology becomes a real part of her life? I guess my concern is that she becomes too reliant on technology from an early age and doesn’t develop some of those basic skills. I know how lazy I’ve become with spelling and calculations because I always have spell check and excel when I need them. Would hate for her to rely on those things also before she’s even learnt them properly.

Toddler play dough time

How toddler play should be?

We went to visit a primary school recently as we think about which preschool and school to send Matilda too. As we walked into the reception class they were just setting up to do some basic computer programming with laptops and robots! If Matilda can go into that class next year already able to use a laptop or tablet that has to be an advantage? (BTW very impressed they are doing this in reception, big tick mark from me!)

Where’s the balance in this? I’d love to here how you’re using a technology for toddlers but balancing it with ‘normal’ learning methods. If we do buy a tablet I want it to be something she learns on not just sits and plays games with etc. So any recommendations on programs or apps also appreciated.

  • David Inglis

    Always a tricky one. You’re right that they will use these devices throughout their lives so it makes sense that they are familiar with them, but I think they detract from many essential skills.

    If they only ever write via a keyboard, they wont learn to write by hand. If they only ever learn to draw with a finger, they wont learn the fine motor skills that using pens, brushes and crayons etc provide.

    My biggest issue is that they are sedentary devices. I want my kids to learn how to be physical and creative first.

    on the flip side, the BBC app has helped teach Olivia how to spell, which is no bad thing, so they have their place.

    • http://mutteringsofafool.com/ Ben

      Yep agree on the sedentary piece. hate seeing kids sat glued to the screen either at home or out at dinner etc. Interesting to think whether those skills of using a pen etc are becoming less relevant now though?

      • David Inglis

        Less frequently required, certainly, but having the ability to jot something down is just too useful.

  • sabrina montagnoli

    Well admittedly we don’t have a tablet for ourselves much less one for my wee man. He loved his nonna’s while she was visiting doing the different puzzles and games and it was quite educational and very addictive! Everything with balance is always good and technology is in no way a bad thing. I never thought of getting a tablet just for him though and was thinking maybe checking out the leappad for the 4th bday.

    I can say that a friend got him these collins easy learning writing books and I am so surprised at how much he has taken to them and enjoys them which is great not just for learning the ABCs but also for developing those fine motor skills. We can also spend all day doing arts and crafts and his nonni bought him an easle for his 3rd birthday and just having it out with all round access has encouraged the constant want to write and draw without me having to instigate it.

    • http://mutteringsofafool.com/ Ben

      The Leap pad’s do look interesting don’t they? But I think for now at least we may stay away completely. Sure it could be useful but so can using paper and pen :)

  • Sarah @apartyofseven

    personally….and we are a tech family too..i would stay away from getting them their ‘own’ until they are older. and they catch up REAL quick so i wouldnt worry about her feeling left out if they dont have them

    • http://mutteringsofafool.com/ Ben

      Yep think we’re leaning the same way.

  • http://www.circusqueen.co.uk/ Adele Jarrett-Kerr

    As you know, I do let my 2yo use certain programs. However, we very carefully limit her screen time, preferring to redirect her to “real” things. She is not allowed to just pick up and play with our devices and we try not to use them too much when we are with her. I don’t think she’ll be getting her own for a long time as then it could invite more arguments about limits than we need. For what it’s worth, I remember being in IT class at secondary school being the only student who’d ever even touched a computer (my dad is a computer guy) but there’s now little difference in computer literacy between me and my former classmates so I’m not sure that any advantage was particularly enduring. All interesting stuff to think about though. The conversation around technology is no doubt one we’ll keep having as our children get older.

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