We have all felt the stigma about giving our children too much screen time. Video games, YouTube, Disney+, and Netflix are going to rot their brains! Until you actually become a parent and realize that giving your children tablets can actually do a lot more good than you thought, but when should you give your child a tablet? There are many things to consider when introducing tablets and screen time to your children, so let’s dive in.
How to tell if your child is ready for a tablet.
This one is really going to vary from parent to parent. My daughter started on a tablet early because she had an older brother who used one—or maybe I was just trying to be a good “first time mom” with him. She is coming up on three now, and has had her own tablet for about a year. My son got his first tablet when he was almost four.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “For children younger than 18 months, avoid use of screen media other than video-chatting.” I would agree with this, though we absolutely have our TV on 24/7. Child development aside, as a mother, bringing in tablets this early leads to frustration more than anything. Children this small can’t control what they see and are mostly just distracted by the sounds and colours. These are things you could easily do with interactive toys, so I’d suggest waiting.
It is recommended to limit screen time for ages two to five to one hour per day, but I’m just not that kind of parent. My philosophy has always been to do what is best for your child, and this is absolutely the age I would start introducing a tablet, even if it’s just your own with the child safety locks on. Kids in this age group learn quickly, and there are so many games on the tablet that are educational, plus they teach coordination.
Maybe don’t let them loose on YouTube just yet, but there are so many options that can help your children learn and develop, and you can always set limits if you want to. You’re in charge!
What is the best tablet for kids?
This is a tough one with a few precursor questions. Is your family married to a specific brand or operating system? Android or Apple? What kind of safety features do you need? What apps do you want to use?
This has always been my struggle with choosing a tablet for my children. For my son’s seventh birthday, we got him a new tablet, and picking out the right one was such an undertaking. The Fire HD 10 Kids was at the top of our list, until we realized getting access to apps like YouTube isn’t as easy as a simple download.
YouTube Kids is his go-to, I didn’t want to make that sacrifice for something that has the word “kids” in the title. Not to mention we have always been a Samsung family, and teaching my son an entirely new device that I wasn’t confident in would be an issue in itself. Kids learn quickly, and he would learn to use the Fire HD more thoroughly than I could, twice as fast. Do I really want to hand him a device that I might not be able to keep secure?
The newest iPad line has just been released as well, the iPad Pro, iPad Air, iPad and iPad Mini. The iPad Air and iPad Mini look like a great option for the family. But the same issue occurs, are we ready to dive into the Apple universe without a single Apple product in our home? But maybe your family uses Macs and iPhones, so this might be the better option for you, rather than diving into a new ecosystem. Stick with what you know, so to speak.
We are an Android family, for sure, but I really liked the safety features on the Fire tablets. In the end, though, we ended up with a Samsung Galaxy Tab A7 Lite. The Samsung Galaxy family does exactly what we need, and I know how to work it like the back of my hand. It was the right choice for us, but something different may be the right choice for you.
What should you look for in a kid’s tablet?
This is possibly the most important question. Yes, all of the above matter in terms of which brand to buy, but what about what features you need to look for? When we purchased the A7 Lite, we actually upgraded from an older version of the A7 Lite. Seems like an odd choice, but I promise, it made sense.
First, consider the size of the tablet you want? Should it be big enough that they can watch any of their favourite shows without strain, or is being able to pop it in their bag with ease more important? My son wanted a bigger screen because his sister was using the Fire HD 10 kids. Jealousy reared its ugly head, and bigger is always better, right?
The next step is to consider what they will be doing on it. Is it just for streaming Netflix or Disney+? Will games be played on your child’s tablet? Is your child old enough to want to take pictures and videos? Each one of the factors plays a role in what tablet you choose for your kids.
Netflix, Disney+, and YouTube will run on most devices. If this is all you need, I wouldn’t suggest going all out on the most expensive device you can find. Chances are, that will be overkill for what you need, and you’ll be breaking the bank for nothing.
If your children want to play games, you may want to look at the resolution of the tablet’s screen. This may not matter for younger children playing simple games, but as they get older, Minecraft and Roblox might come into play, and a better quality display would be best suited for these. You may also want to consider the chip that is in the tablet if you think your kids might go down the mobile gaming rabbit hole. An older model might not meet a game’s specifications, making it run slowly, or not at all.
“No one can tell you when you’re ready to get your child a tablet, because every kid is different.”
The most important thing to my family in a tablet, however, is storage. This is why we moved from the old A7 Lite to the new A7 Lite. We loved the tablet, had a cool little case for it and everything, but the storage just wasn’t there. Every time my son wanted to take a video, or download a new game, we would need to delete an old one. He was constantly having to sacrifice.
The old device came with 16 GB, whereas its newest version has doubled its storage to 32 GB. Some tablets may come with an SD card slot, and this is an even better option as you can choose the storage that is perfect for your needs.
So much can go into making the decision to give your child a tablet. Age, maturity, screen time and usage are all really important things to consider. No one can tell you when you’re ready to get your child a tablet, because every kid is different. Go with your gut, and consider some things above before you make the decision to dive in.