We’ve all seen the studies, heard the debates, noted how Steve Jobs limited his own kids’ time on the iPad at home. How much screen time is too much for our children?
A few months ago I decided to open the BUBs’ technological minds by downloading some educational games into my iPad. BUB.1 already uses one at school, I don’t want him to be all fingers and thumbs while his classmates are creating virtual cities and researching Ebola.
It turned them into rabid, angry, possessive, competitive beasts with 80 per cent of my day sorting out whose turn it was on the sodding iPad. I hid the iPad, and within hours they forgot and we all got on with our lives.
A recent visit to their older cousins’ house reignited their interest in the iPad and BUB.1 got addicted to a game called Crossy Road. Road safety, I thought, what more valuable lesson could my iPad bring? To make him happy, and potentially SAVE HIS LIFE, I downloaded it, and a few other games, onto my iPad.
Once again, within minutes there was spitting and fighting and I think some punching. I can’t afford to buy more iPads, I don’t want them to break mine, and the world of kiddy tablets scares me. Wrestling my ‘baby’ from their sticky clutches, I received a message to say someone had racked up a bill of £24 and would I like to contact this number to discuss? I am still trying to get through to them days later.
I know this is a matter of parental control, teaching your children to share, blah blah blah, but all I saw was angry, addicted monsters. I didn’t hear much laughing, just breathing and some bleeping.
Meanwhile, the week has also seen the BUBs find a den in the woods, climb a tree, play in snow, have foot fights, visit the RAF museum, help teach their sister to walk, and laugh like drains as they tear around the village on their scooters. Much, MUCH better.
But BUB.1 is so inquisitive. From an early age he enjoyed watching YouTube clips of ceiling fans being fitted. He now loves birds and bones. And if there was to be no more screen time I would never overhear this kind of thing at 7.10am in the morning:
“Oh there’s a gun here to shoot a condor. Oh there’s a condor being chopped, he just has his head and beak but the baby is still alive, good. Oh, condors live in caves? Hey a musical condor and look the notes are moving? Look, condors with chicken heads! This condor is bigger than a MAN!”
Welcome to the internet, son.