Fisherprice created quite a stir when they introduced the apptivity rocker. Well, I personally was against the idea of letting young babies watch materials from tablets or screens at such a young age. It was one thing to leave them to watch TV for 5-10 minutes while the caregiver grabbed a quick bite or break, and another to have a tablet holder affixed to the rocker. There was a potential to abuse and overuse the gadget.
I was definitely not a purist mom. I had used the iPad as a bargaining chip in many instances. It all boiled down to individual usage and control. When Z was an 18m old toddler, we used the iPad rather liberally because he was a very slow and difficult eater. The iPad was also a perfect companion for long flights, road trips and tided us over many occasions.
He was 18months old and impossible to reason with, no matter how many times I changed my marketing pitch to him. One day, he also decided that he did not want to sit in his baby car seat anymore and was screaming bloody murder in the car every day. Well, rather than risking an accident due to distraction by the screams, we purchased a tablet holder (at S$49.90 from Sim Lim) and attached it to the back of the front passenger seat. Z was in his terrible twos at that time. The usage was not unlike the Fisherprice apptivity seat.
Gradually, I understood the reason for his behaviour and tossed the terrible twos concept aside. I talked a lot to him. When I felt that he knew he had my support, I started to take the iPad away slowly. It started with telling him that watching too much iPad would spoil his eyesight. We reduced the watching duration from X time to 0.5X time. By the time when he was used to not watching the iPad, I explaining to him the danger of fixing the iPad in front of his seat and the presence of the iPad holder. If there was a car accident, the iPad might fly and hit him. Z was only 2+ years old when he agreed to removing the iPad from the car.
Subsequently, I told him that I would prefer that he talked to us during meal times and I gradually kept the iPad away.
With that, the iPad was kept away for good and instead of an entitlement, the usage of iPad became a privilege.
At the end of the day, gadgets could work for us and make our lives easier but we must also know when to call it a day. Hence, I would not dismiss the use of such gadgets. Like I had always told my friends, the greatest inventions for parents would be “iPad and Pixar”. They made our lives so much easier! One key thing to remember was we, the parents, called the shots, not the children. Only we would know what constituted as reasonable usage and what would constitute as abuse. If we followed the wills of the children, it would be overused.