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Opinion: I admit it, I'm an Apple Parent... are you?

When the need arises to soothe, calm, occupy, or otherwise try to obtain some peace from the kids we break out the tablets.

Lucy O'Connor

I’M AN APPLE parent. There, I’ve said it. I’ve confessed. A what? An Apple Parent – no, not the fruit but the large corporation.

My parenting has become reliant on Apple products. When my first was born she was rocked and walked and bounced to soothe her. Eventually she discovered pacifiers and we discovered peace. As she grew she got musical pre-school toys, dolls and books.

Roll on seven years and the soothers are all but gone and my house has two iPads and two iPhones. Granted, they are (technically) mine and my husband’s but we have nevertheless fallen into the Apple Parenting trap.

Tablet wars

When the need arises to soothe, calm, occupy, or otherwise try to obtain some peace we offer not a soother (although my two-year-old is partial to her soother) but one of said Apple products. It is starting to get ridiculous as, with three kids and only two iPads, we now end up with iPad fights.

Of course Daddy has better apps than Mammy, so then there is a fight over who gets Daddy’s iPad. The first words out of my kids in the morning are “Daddy, can I have your iPad please?”

It now seems to be a race out of bed to see who can get Daddy’s iPad first! Which sometimes results in the necessary response of “IT’S 5AM… GET BACK TO BED”

I don’t think I am alone. I see little toddlers in their buggies watching a phone. Children in restaurants watching an iPad or playing some app while their parents finish up a meal in peace. It is a new parenting tool – although I’m not sure if creating a baby bouncer chair with an attachment that allows you to insert an iPad is really necessary for a three-month-old. Nor is a potty that allows an iPad be fixed into place while your toddler does what’s necessary.

Important to keep a watchful eye 

Love them or hate them (and I have to admit to loving them!) if you let your kids touch them it is important to watch what they are clicking on and to restrict their time on them.

My daughter clocked up over €200 on my husband’s iPhone when he first got it three years ago. Eeek! Also, with easy access to YouTube and at times some not so appealing content, parental supervision and controls are essential. My little boy would spend every waking hour on it if we let him but, like everything, moderation is the key. They can be highly addictive. I make sure that my kids play sports, visit friends and play with “real” toys. I also need to watch my own screen time. Monkey see, monkey do. It is hard for kids to understand they can’t play on the iPad when they see Mammy and Daddy constantly checking into their phones.

All that said they are not all bad. I have seen my kids doing very difficult online jigsaws, colouring online pictures and learning numbers and alphabets via the phone or iPad. There are some great educational apps available to ensure any tablet time is not misspent.

If we can just harness its power, this new parenting tool can be positive and educational. Let’s face it – by the time my kids are adults who knows where technology will be? iPads will probably be an essential daily life tool. For me, I want my kids to grow up with the necessary skills to be able to cope in the fast-moving technological world we live in today.

Where do you stand on the use of these devices in your house? Are you an Apple parent too?

Lucy O’Connor, aka Learner Mama, lives in Dublin, Ireland with her three children. Currently on a career break from her fulltime (paid) job. She saves her sanity by blogging her way through parenting at www.learnermama.com. You can find her on Twitter and on Facebook.

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