My kids often borrowed my husband’s iPad to play games – even sometimes arguing over who got to use it. Their love for playing on the iPad is why I have very few games on my iPad. I don’t want them to borrow it.
Now I know a Kindle fire or some other tablet may have been cheaper than the Apple iPad minis, but we are really an “Apple” family. The kids have iPod touches (hand-me downs from my husband and myself) and both my husband and I both have iPads and iPhones. It is much easier to not have to repurchase apps by sticking with tablets that use Apple’s iTunes.
It wasn’t just their use of my husband’s iPad that made us decide they could use their own. Schools are requiring more use of technology. Every week Jase has homework with a QR code on it. They may not be taking their own devices to school yet, but it won’t be long before they are.
With the future in mind, we made sure to buy them iPad minis with a decent processor. The first mini was out at Christmas time for an incredibly cheap price – probably because in October 2014, Apple released the iPad mini 3. But the processor is several generations older, and we worried it wouldn’t be able to keep up with the newer apps. We ended up going with the iPad mini 2.
The first thing we did was buy covers for them. There is no use investing all this money and not keeping it safe. These covers were only $20 on Amazon and had excellent ratings. We liked that the cover also becomes a stand.
And as anyone with a six-year-old knows, you have to make sure they don’t lose them. We set up rules such as when not in use the iPads need to be in their room charging on their nightstands. But just in case they do get misplaced, we put a tracking device on each of them. Glued to each cover is a Tile that can be tracked by an app on my husband’s iPhone. (We also have one on the bedroom TV remote as it often goes missing.)
So now that they have their own iPad minis, we have the fun of regulating their use. We don’t’ want them to become so absorbed with playing on them that they do nothing else. Now we have never had a strict screen-time rule. Heck, who am I kidding? We don’t have any TV/Computer/Electronic device rules.
There have been a few days where I have had to tell the kids to put down their iPads and go do something else. They did insist on taking them to my parents’ house. After about 30 minutes, I made them put them away – with very little grumbling. There is no use visiting people and never looking up at them.
Overall, the kids are pretty good at balancing physical activities with “screen” time. When it isn’t too cold, they are often out back playing. When it is cold, they have board games and Lego bricks to keep them busy. And if necessary, I can always bring out the fake snowballs or let them make their own snow – those two activities are guaranteed to keep them busy for hours.