As we get closer to the festive season, I’ve been wondering what on earth to get Travis for his third (!!) Christmas. With his birthday in October, I start to feel at a loss of what to get.
We are so fortunate to have such a loving network of friends and family that spoil Travis, so he doesn’t particularly need anything at this moment. Add to that the fact that hes too young to really want and persist about certain things (at the moment!), and accounting for the fact it will then be another 10 months before he gets another big present from us, and it all gets a little bit daunting.
So I decided to purchase a tablet as his main Christmas present this year. Even when I popped my card into the reader in the O2 store, I could hear twenty-something me saying “what does a toddler need an actual tablet for?” And I know many other parents (and non-parents) will be thinking the same. Whilst there are a million reasons that tablets are seen to be bad for children, there are also some plus points and benefits for parents (sanity) too.
When I was younger and childless I used to look at kids in restaurants glued to iPads or see little ones nag at parents for a shot of their phone – I’ve even seen kids sitting in the park on a tablet (!) All of which made me instantly recoil in horror and think, how could that be good for such a little mind? Truth is, without kids you don’t really understand the situation, and unless you ask someone why they’ve given a kid a device or what they are doing on it, you’ll never really know if it’s as bad as what your brain is telling you.
Now with my parent hat on I can see so many benefits to this little piece of portable technology and believe there are actually many things a 2 year old can use a tablet for. Here are just 5 of them:
1.Watching things you don’t want to
I’ll be the first to confess, this is the absolute number one reason that swayed me to getting the tablet in the first place. I’m all for watching some CBeebies (especially if there’s a beaut bedtime story reader!) but with YouTube and Netflix and other streaming sources meaning that kids expect to watch things on demand, it can be difficult to control the timing of watching things. It can also be hard to control what your kid likes, thanks to auto playing and recommended suggestions from the likes of YouTube.
At the moment, Travis’ favourite thing to watch is remote control fire engines and trucks that change colour and teach him colours. Whilst they aren’t exactly x-rated or offensive, they are a tad repetitive and boring. There’s only so many times I can watch the same fire engine be driven to the same (fake) fire and watch it get put out by this remote control marvel. Similarly with the colours videos, though add to that a regular argument between a toddler and a grown-ass woman about whether the truck turns purple or pink!
So for me, having a tablet he can watch these things on, albeit on a limited time frame, saves a portion of my sanity, and means he doesn’t have to be in the living room to enjoy it.
2. Interactive learning
There are so many educational apps out there for kids at all stages of development. Whether it’s a fun game based on a cartoon character that lets you sort out shapes, or a simple screen where you tap animals to hear the noises they make, there are loads of interactive learning games for toddlers available on apps. Again, I feel like if the screen time is limited, it’s no more harmful than watching TV or doing similar activities not on a screen (with plastic toys that are unable to biodegrade for example).
This is another top reason in our book for getting the tablet. My own personal tablet was bought in 2014, but was quite possibly made earlier than that. As such, it’s getting to the point where apps are no longer able to update and so it’s not reliable for us to take when travelling. Whether it’s a long car ride or a plane/train ride where your little one can’t exactly get up and wander off, tablets can be a good way to incorporate the above into your travel plan, meaning a 2 year old is content watching fire engines or sorting shapes or watching a movie from one little device rather than having to pack 40 toys, games etc with you.
For me it sure beats the alternative of tantrums when he can’t get out and move around, or the polar opposite – a danger nap at the wrong time of day!
4. Playing with mum and dad
Nobody said that kids had no option but to use tablets by themselves, doing solo activities. In fact, most basic games can be played on tablets, whether it’s drawing and colouring or learning and counting. Mum and dad can always join in, picking a colour or singing along. YouTube can be a great resource for nursery rhymes with subtitles (because I swear there were never as many nursery rhymes when I was wee!) and dances or actions, meaning everyone can join in.
5. Growing with your child
Rather than a plastic toy that may only be in your toddlers favour for a few months, destined for a charity shop or recycling by the next December, a tablet is an investment that can grow with your child. Basic counting and naming apps too childish for your kid now? Simply find some newer ones which will stimulate their mind and educate their growing brain. As they get older they can use the tablet as a library and even homework tool (if the tablet is much better than my 2014 friend which is past its sell-by now!) meaning that there’s less wastage and you – or Santa – has actually got great value from a Christmas present for a 2 year old.