Little Kids + Technology Tips
We are a pro CONTROLLED technology family.
We encourage our boys (Audrey is still too little) to use technology but it is very controlled.
Our boys each have their own iPad (and headphones).
We have each iPad set up with lots of limitations (hence, "controlled") so it is a safe and fun device to use for learning. When my oldest was in a weekly occupational therapy program, his OT actually used an iPad pretty regularly. There are so many apps available now that are great for helping children with fine motor skills, speech, writing skills, and more. I got a bunch of app recommendations from his OT and by also playing them at home, William's skills improved quickly!
I know there is tons of research out there that claims that technology is basically evil and is only destroying our children. But we haven't stopped using technology so I strongly believe that we should encourage our children to learn how to safely use technology as they grow up. By cutting technology out from your child's life you are actually putting them at a disadvantage because as they got older, they will be using technology in school and in future jobs so if they can get started now, they will have better skills as they grow up.
My husband is the IT Director at our church and he has worked in IT for almost five years now, so he is always up to date on the latest safety features and options for kids in technology. He set up our boys' iPads so they are free to have fun but only in the apps that we have allowed.
Setting Up Technology Limitations
On our boys’ iPads we have the following settings in place:
1-hour time limit
No camera/messaging/phone/internet access
No in-app purchases
No app store access/No downloading apps
No deleting apps
How to Set Limitations on an iPad
Next, on your phone or iPad you want to go into Settings > Screen Time > your child’s name under the family section. There you will be able to select things like Downtime (when they cannot use anything on their iPad), App Limits (the time limit), Always Allowed (apps that you are okay with them always having access to), and Content & Privacy Restrictions (turn off app store purchases/in-app purchases, internet browsers, Facetime, and more in this section).
Our boys aren't old enough to need internet access for school research or social media yet so we don't have a family computer of any kind. For the future, we did talk about setting up some sort of family computer in a central family space for the kids to use. No computers in their room until they are MUCH older. But for now, we do have an internet blocker and accountability software set up on both of our computers and phones and my husband's iPad, we use and highly recommend using Covenant Eyes. I have also heard great things about Disney Circle which is great for turning internet access on and off for older children who do need to use the internet for homework, etc.
Be Confident in Your Choice
If you have decided to encourage the use of technology in your home, with little kids, be confident in your decision! Remember that each home and each child is different so what works for your home may not work in another and vice versa.
After setting up the correct settings on your child’s iPad, don’t forget to check out the list of our favorite iPad apps for toddlers and preschoolers, available in the free resource library.