It’s become a common refrain for Apple to position iPads as being laptop replacements. It reached a fever pitch with the introduction of the really damn big iPad Pro last year. As much as I love my iPad – it’s my most-used personal computing device, more than my phone most days – and as impressive as my new 128 GB iPad Pro Jr. is (that’s what my friend Todd Ogasawara calls this model, Apple’s naming is silly), Apple is simply not allowing the iPad hardware, and iOS, to evolve to the point where it would seriously cannibalize sales of their laptops. Now I admit for some people who use their laptops for pure consumption, an iPad may in fact replace their laptop 80% of the time. I know my sister hardly touches her laptop any more once she bought an iPhone + iPad.
A work colleague of mine posted a question on Facebook asking about how other parents handled screen time with their kids. Below was my response. If you’re a parent, how do you handle screen time with your kids?
Most “experts” (and I use that term loosely because there haven’t been many really solid studies on this, so it’s mostly guessing) say 2 hours maximum of screen time per day for kids. So with our five year old, we give him 60 minutes total screen time per weekday, and 90 minutes on weekends. We’ll scale that up as he gets older. We give him little plastic coins (5’s and 10’s) for time counting that go into a little tray so we can also teach him basic math while we’re at it. He decides how he wants to spend his time between iPad, TV, computer, and Xbox. We try to encourage him to use no more than 30 minutes at once, taking a break in between. No screen time before school, ever.
For the most part, this system works out quite well – he rarely uses all his screen time on weekdays. He understands the limits and rarely complains about them. We’ve had the occasional case of him becoming a little obsessed with a game (Tiny Thief and Minecraft on the iPad so far), but by having the preset time limits in place, the answer is always the same: “You can play it tomorrow”.
For me, what makes this work is defined limits that the kids know about and agree to. Without that, you have “it’s whatever mom and dad say”, which creates uncertainty in your kids. They adapt to that by whining/screaming more if they feel the whim of mom and dad doesn’t go their way. Same thing goes for allowance and buying things at stores – pre-defined solutions (allowance) encourage your kids to think about how they should use the resources they have. I’ll write more about this in a future blog post and it’s something I find very interesting!
Zero screen time for our toddler until she’s two, then we’ll give her a little bit of time with the iPad.
CBC news reporter Terri Trembath interviewed me for a story she was doing about iPads coming to Calgary. We talked for about ten minutes on camera, and I answered questions about the iPad, mobile computing, the fact that some people bought them and didn’t know what to use them for, but some people love them, etc.
In the clip above, she had asked me why I wasn’t getting an iPad, considering that I was a gadget geek – my response was that the kinds of stuff that I did required a keyboard, and that the iPad’s on-screen keyboard didn’t look ideal to me for entering information. So the clip is only part of my statement, and without the context of a question – which makes it seem a little odd to me. That’s the problem with being a tiny part of a larger story; you don’t get much camera time to explain your position.
Anyway, at least this time my company name got in the story. 😉