Today, I got to see and feel the joys of my children growing up in the technology age. My son Grayson, almost 7 years old (in July) and his twin sister, Madelyn have Apple iPads. They are in the first grade and are really excited about reading, writing and “growing up”. They had Samsung tablets, but I am strictly an Apple girl, so when my daughter’s tablet broke, I was excited to switch her (and him because after all…they are twins) to Apple. I am more familiar with their parental settings, content and app store. Plus, their tablets seamlessly sync with my phone 🙂
Anyway, I sent Grayson a cute, short message that I knew he could read and he was excited to receive it. He can receive iMessage from contacts in his iPad only (basically from me and his dad) and can send them to only contacts as well. He couldn’t wait to send me one back. Today, I am at work, so I wouldn’t be able to see him. He went over to his iPad, pulled up the messaging app and wrote me a message. ” hi mom I love you my day whuS Good haw was Today”. It’s so cute because 1) he is asking me about my day and telling me he loves me and 2) he wrote it how he knows how to spell right now. I replied back that I love him too. He was excited that I replied so quickly. Shortly after, I FaceTimed him to say goodnight. The best parts of technology right at my fingertips and connecting me to my heart.
The Pros of Accessibility
How much access should they have at 6.5 years old? Clearly, I won’t be giving them Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat (I hope they never get snapchat, but that debate is for another time). They do currently have access to iMessage with me and their dad, FaceTime, Netflix for kids and several apps for learning and a couple for fun…like Angry Birds lol. I see the benefits of them having this access. For instance, their dad and I are divorced. The tablets are a great way as they grow to directly connect to their dad without having to ask to use my phone. They can message and FaceTime him any time they want. Another benefit to them having iPads is I can see every single app and access they have. When the MoMo challenge became a thing (for like a week), I immediately removed YouTube from their devices and talked to them about it. Additional benefits include them having access to the very tools they will utilize for the rest of their lives and they have a jump start on learning how the technology works. My concern is keeping them from the technology will only put them behind and the learning curve will be deep. There are many pros to allowing young children to have access to technology early.
The Cons of Technology
I have a friend who has a preteen. She now has an iPhone with the same parental controls as the twins. Her parents have access to her content, what she downloads etc. She doesn’t have Instagram. The problem at that age, however, is that all of her friends have Instagram and she wants it too. Her mom told me a story about how her daughter figured out the parental code and was able to download IG without them knowing. Well without them knowing for a couple days. Her parents are smart and pay close attention so they figured it out quick. The irony in this?? I have the SAME story to tell of my 6 year old! Madelyn’s iPad locked after one hour of use per the parental controls. The iPad then prompts Madelyn to ask for more time or for a parent to put a code in. I watched her click to add the code, she continued to put in my “secret” code then prompted her tablet to unlock for the remainder of the day. This completely dumbfounded me! I can’t believe she figured out how to not only unlock with my code, but she is able to read the prompts enough to get it unlocked. Clearly, breeching the parental access is something that occurs at any age. If you are a hands off parent, there is a decent chance your child has more on their tablet/phone than you know. Think about that… if my 6 year old can do it, so can your 15 year old. When you are finished reading this, reconsider your secret code… An even bigger concern than your child accessing their table after it locks is who can access your child’s tablet?? MoMo or the likes there of can access them through YouTube kids. There are apps that have private messaging like IG that allow for any predators to reach your children. To set up these tablets, your child will likely have their own email to ensure their tablet sets up unique to them and that your content doesn’t overlap onto theirs. The con of children having access to technology is it’s not childproof.
What Can You Do?
Children having technology, in my opinion is a necessary evil. It’s how the world turns these days. Honestly, without technology, I would have never heard my late dad’s voice again or had the ability to see his video’s or read his comments on Facebook. The kids get a lot of knowledge out of the tablet with math and reading games to just knowing how tablets or phones work. How many people have house phones still?? If you were to have a medical emergency and your child didn’t know how to use your phone, how would they call 911? I recently ran a call where a 4 year old intelligently picked up his grandfathers phone and called the neighbor. He likely saved his grandfathers life. I think now, even more than ever, we have to know our kids. We have to understand how incredibly smart they are and intuitive at 3, 4, 6, 12, 15 years old. We have to talk to them honestly and bluntly about the dangers of the world we live in and predators. Just as with anything, there are both good and bad that come with technology. Just be aware and pay attention to your kids. Finally, make the parental password something super random lol!