"Take This iPad and Shut Up!" Do's and Don'ts of tablet use - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

"Take This iPad and Shut Up!" Do's and Don'ts of tablet use

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Technology is all around us, and it's advancing every day. In fact, if you asked a 5-year-old to pop a VHS tape in a VCR, they'd probably laugh at you. There are kids in diapers who are probably more tech-savvy than some adults.

It got us thinking, how young is too young? And how much is too much technology?  It's just so easy to pass over the tablet and say "Take this iPad and shut up!" 

Two-year-old Isabelle is quite the pro at her puzzle games on mom and dad's tablet.  Keagon and Mike Jacques didn't plan on allowing Isabelle to use their iPad, but like most toddlers, she was curious.

"When she would see us playing on it, she would put her finger on it and things like that and we thought, 'Maybe they have apps for kids.'" says Keagon Jacques.

The Jacques want to do what's best for their daughter. They want to make sure she isn't behind in terms of technology, but also make sure she's not attached to it.

We went to the experts to find out what's best for kids and technology.  While they say that tablet use might not be a horrible thing, there are some guidelines to follow when giving your kids the keys to technology.

Pediatrician Dr. Charisse Johnson says, "There's a lot to be said about what technology is doing for society, but we still have to strike the balance in the process."

Saint Mary's IT student, Jessica Ritchey, whose senior project is on the very topic, asks,"Is she going be content with a magazine or a rattle? Or is this going to negatively affect her?"

Saint Mary's Education Professor, Amy Gillan says, "As a parent, it's all a matter of balance."

We found three basic points our experts agreed on when it comes to kids and tablet use.

The first: limit their use.

"Limit to an hour, half an hour, or less a day, depending on how old the pre-school aged child, it's actually very helpful," says Ritchey.

The Jacques say they only allow Isabelle to play on the iPad for 30 minutes at a time, a couple days a week.

"She's really good about that. She doesn't even want her using television for a certain period of time before she stops and does something interactive with her," says Mike Jacques, about his wife, Keagon.

Dr. Johnson recommends kids two and older be limited to two hours a day outside of school use. She also believes kids under two shouldn't use technology at all. Which is the recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

"When a child under two is learning, that we're teaching them through books. That we're teaching them through one-on-one interaction. So they're seeing and their parents are modeling the social aspect and that they're actually getting an appreciation for books and not technology."
    
Another guideline to remember: Keep it educational.

"She does a lot of puzzles and we have music ones with classic nursery rhymes and she loves singing," says Keagon Jacques.
    
Dr. Johnson says it's even ok to use a tablet as a babysitter from time to time when necessary, but again, "If we're going to use technology in those moments, then let's use it in a learning way. So maybe you download the app "bedtime math" so your child is doing math problems while you wait," says Johnson.

And lastly: use the technology WITH your kids, and in a common area.

"So when they're using it, you can be walking by and say, 'Hey what are you looking at today?' and kind of looking over their shoulder and talk about it," says Gillan.

The experts say, with these guidelines, there are certainly benefits to toddlers using tablets.

The Jacques say they see that in Isabelle.
 
"I brag on her all the time. I call her my little genius," says Mike Jacques, "She's able to identify shapes and she'll pull them down and put them where they're supposed to go."
    
The Jacques say Isabelle also knows the alphabet and can count by 10's, something the iPad helped her with.  Isabelle herself is proud of her accomplishments, "I did it!" she exclaims after completing a puzzle.

The experts say to make sure you, as a parent, are watching how much YOU use technology. If your child sees you constantly playing with your phone, they're going to pick up those habits.

If you'd like to know which apps are the most educational for your children, click here, for a blog recommended by Professor Gillan.

Also, if you'd like to learn more about what Gillan thinks about the link between technology and obesity, view the video above for an extended interview.

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