Last Christmas I bought my son a tablet. I found it on sale and knew in the near future he would need a decent tablet. I also knew the tablet would be a lifesaver on road trips to help occupy him with movies or games. He was 1 and a half.
Before you start questioning my parenting understand that for the majority of this first year of having the tablet it was only used to play movies while on road trips. Any other time it was hidden away.
In fact it wasn’t until recently, now that he’s almost 3, that he’s even been allowed to play with it. In a desperate attempt to keep our cranky toddler happy and occupied while Rob and I prepared for a move to Pennsylvania.
He plays games on it mostly but also uses a drawing app. Additionally, from time to time he plays a shape match game which he’s a whiz at. It always shocks me how great he is at some of these games.
If you have ever had a 2 or 3 year old and tried to move you know how active they are and counter productive to your tasks. Finding a way to keep them occupied and not mess up your piles of items can be extremely helpful.
Tablets can be used to help teach your child all sorts of things with just a few apps. Our favorite apps are bubble pop games which helps him recognize and match colors. As he is becoming more comfortable with the tablet we are looking for more educational apps.
For the most part I let my husband play with a try out the apps with our son. In the near future I’ll have him write a post with his top picks for apps.
It can be difficult choosing the right apps for your toddler. There are apps for everything you want to teach your child. I highly recommend checking the reviews to see what other parents think before downloading. Additionally, make sure you play with the app some before letting your child play with it.
Check out my post Pacifier Weaning A Toddler Without Frustration.
With Lucas’s speech delay we have found the tablet extremely helpful. There are apps that you can use to help with communication. As of right now our son’s speech delay is just a speech delay, but to help with communication you can use an app that has buttons for things like food, drink, yes, no, hugs, ect.
While we don’t use that app often because we want him to use his words and not rely on the app to communicate. It can be helpful if we are having an especially difficult communication day.
The story type apps are great for helping your toddler make associations with sight and sounds of words as it highlights each word in the story while it’s saying them. Additionally, if you sit with your child while the app reads the story you can point to the pictures to further those associations.
Like I mentioned in the last section my son likes playing the bubble pop games. These games have taught him about different colors. He is getting so good at colors if I ask him to point to a specific color he points to it.
The educational benefits of playing with a tablet can be amazing for both you and your child. If you use a tablet properly it becomes a useful tool to teaching your child all of their necessary skills.
How to Avoid the Tantrum After Screen Time
Let’s face it, toddlers are basically little egomaniacs. They want everything and they want it now. So when screen time is over you just may have a screaming 3 year old wanting their tablet back. I have found a couple of ways to help break screen time easily and without screaming.
First, you will want to try distraction. Try going to the bathroom, taking a shower, cooking something. All these day to day activities seem to distract a child fairly quickly. Have your significant other hide the tablet while you have your toddler distracted.
If your toddler has decided to not let the tablet out of their sight that’s fine. Just wait them out. Eventually something else will grab their attention and you will be able to hide the tablet.
The final way is to just deal with the tantrum when screen time is over. Make sure to use your words and explain you can play more tomorrow. Then put the tablet away. At this point you can pull out some books, coloring books, or toys that your child likes to play with.
My biggest recommendation is if you are caught hiding the tablet you must not give it back to them in the middle of a tantrum. Put the tablet away and try to short circuit the tantrum with a different activity.
Check out my post The Art of Distraction to learn more about how we use distraction to stop a tantrum.
Purchasing a Tablet
There are a ton of different tablets on the market so it can be confusing which one to get. I have some fantastic tips to make sure you get a tablet that can stand up to abuse, work as quickly as your toddlers mind, and keep your toddler protected from the internet.
First off when looking for a tablet for your toddler you will want one that comes with a replacement warranty. This means if your toddler breaks it, you get a replacement no questions asked. Toddlers are little deconstructors, so you want to make sure that any device you get them is covered.
Make sure the device has a big kid proof case. These cases are designed not only to withstand drops, bumps, and throws they are also designed so that little hands can hold them. These cases also allow for less slip.
You want fantastic parental controls. You want to be able to control everything your child does with the tablet. What are they reading, playing, and doing on this device. Any device should have easy to access controls for you but not for your child.
Which Device to Get
While the first tablet we bought our son was a Nabi 2 the tablet is now outdated. We all know how tech works. For about 2 seconds you have the hot new tech and then it’s outdated by another piece.
While the Nabi 2 worked great for the past year for our needs, now that our son is looking for more educational options we are looking to upgrade.
We want the Amazon Fire Kids Edition Tablet. With a 7 inch screen, great case, and 2 year no questions asked warranty it’s exactly what we want for a new tablet.
Additionally, with purchase you get a year of Free Time Unlimited which gives you access to over 15,000 apps, books, and educational content from PBS, Nickelodeon, and Disney.
The parental controls allow you to decide how much screen time they can have, as well as everything they are playing with. Plus you can see all this from your Smartphone. Additionally, if you have more than one kid you can see what both children are doing with their tablets. Or get one tablet and set up individual profiles for up to 4 kids.
The Amazon Fire Kids Edition Tablet has so many amazing offers and it’s made by a name I trust. As we get closer to our toddlers birthday in February we will be making this purchase.
Screen time is not going to hurt your child when used properly. Keep tabs on how much screen time they have, encourage imaginary play, have story time with actual books, and your toddler will be fine.
Tablets can be beneficial to your child’s education as well as to your own mental health. Letting them sit and play quietly on the tablet allows you to get in some much needed quiet time.
Do not let your toddler have complete access to their tablet at all times. We were lucky, Lucas will naturally stop playing with it after about 20 minutes or so and then a few hours later pick it again and play for another 20-30 minutes.
I know that technology can be extremely useful as well as beneficial to the educational needs of toddlers. It’s also extremely useful when you just need to finish the housework or a project.
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What are some rules you put in place for your toddler with electronics and screen time? Leave a comment below with your answer. Follow me on Pinterest for more like this and pin this to your child and parenting boards.
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