Why My Daughters Use Tablets
When I was five, my new mom sat me down to do some schoolwork at our new house on the little Barbie kid table. She had one of those preschool learning activity books and was trying to teach me how to read and write. One day, I saw a butterfly outside and noticed it had six legs. Later in the day, when we were doing those activities, my mom told me to draw the butterfly’s legs, so I drew six legs. She got upset with me and said that butterflies don’t have six legs. Except I had seen it and thus argued that she was wrong. That essentially earned me a lifetime of being seen as a know-it-all. My parents were less and less involved with my education as it became clear that I could succeed without their help.
When I decided to start a family, the plan was to be as enriching and nurturing as possible to help my baby grow to her full potential. Some things happened, and my mental health plummeted. As she and my second baby grew older, my first daughter began showing signs of writing and an interest in letters. I fostered this as much as I knew how. My husband and I got her an alphabet magnet drawing board. She took to it well. The next attempt was to start doing the one on one activities with her. I had everyone give her drawing and activity books for her third birthday. She was eager to scribble. I took that as a good sign that she was ready to start doing deliberate practice. But, I was dead wrong. She rallied hell in her refusal to sit still and follow directions. It hurt at first to realize that I wasn’t able to teach her.
One day, after talking about how I want to give her some educational resources, my husband suggests we get her a tablet of her own. She had been using an old htc phone as a tablet and did well playing on it. He bought her a little tablet from Wal-Mart without a case. I set it up using the Google Family Link app so I could try to steer her more in the direction of educational content and safe games. It worked nicely enough until she broke the tablet from dropping it too much while getting on and off the couch. So, we replaced her tablet. I set up her new one.
Then, one day as she’s playing, our daughter starts laughing about how she’s recording on a new thing. The tablet had updated and installed a chrome widget that wasn’t removable. I couldn’t even disable search on it. Let’s just say some innocent curiosity about why people have different colored hair led to results about vaginas. While my daughter knows she has one, I don’t need her looking at strangers’ vaginas, so I bided my time until the tablet wouldn’t be missed too much and told her that it broke. It was mostly true.
After we bought our house and after being informed that my daughter has to wait at least another year before she can go to school, I decided a new tablet was in order. My husband thought that it would be best to simply do what we did before, but Kohl’s had something better this year during their Black Friday sale: an Amazon Kindle Fire 7 kid’s tablet with the case already on it and optimized kid-proofing. Let’s just say my two oldest daughters are chilling with the big boys.
What I loved about these tablets over the Google system is that I can set an age range, prioritize educational materials, and it doesn’t have Chrome for my kid to accidentally stumble upon a hairy kitty. I love how it has an expandable memory and the thick foam case to protect it when my kids’ tiny hands slip. Ever since I set the tablet to prioritize educational material, my daughter isn’t stuck to it and as anxious as she typically was before. She is more open to sharing what she is playing and being friendly with her sisters.
That’s what it’s all about. Technology is meant to solve problems. For my daughter, learning through books and sitting still is just not how she learns. Apps and books engage her attention and involve her in the learning without being scary. That’s why I choose to stay in the background for her, so she’ll learn to love learning because it’s fun and not because someone told her to learn.