The more things change… 

My post from earlier earned me a stack of email. A lot of was in agreement, but one email from a reader named Larry jumped out at me:

At a restaurant, for example, don’t kids have crayons and a placemat to color? Hasn’t this been common for decades? How is that inherently any different than an iPad? Isn’t the point to give a child something to do? Certainly we can question specific things kids might be doing on an iPad, but isn’t the concept of offering a distraction to a child in public really pretty normal and common and not really that bad?

I see Larry’s point — my specific example isn’t all that new of a situation.

He goes on:

The technology has changed, but the idea stays the same. The same thing with my nephew who is prime Minecraft age. When my brother-in-law put it in the context of, “These are basically like the Lego we had as kids” it made perfect sense. Similar concept, new technology.

Clearly, we look at the world with a filter based on the time in which we live, as @rounded_wreck on Twitter wrote:

@512px when I was a kid, and we were on a long drive, my father used to tell my brother and I to put our books down and look out the window.

On Kids and Touchscreens 

Mat Honan at Wired:

But the ever-present touchscreens make me incredibly uneasy—probably because they make parenting so easy. There is always one at hand to make restaurants and long drives and air travel much more pleasant. The tablet is the new pacifier.

Shawn Blanc:

I agree with Honan’s concluding paragraph that there isn’t a clear-cut answer for appropriate boundaries when it comes to our kids and their usage of iOS devices.

The goal has to be teaching (and then enforcing) moderation and boundaries. Heck, even the most healthy things our kids could be doing — like happily playing sports outside with friends — still needs boundaries and moderation. “When it’s family dinner time, that means it’s time to come inside and stop playing outside.”

This is something that’s been on my mind a lot recently. Every Friday, I eat at the same Mexican restaurant with a group of guys, and for the past several months, there’s been a family there at the same time pretty regularly. The parents (and usually a grandparent) sit and talk, enjoying their meal where the two kids are glued to iPad minis, usually watching a movie.

This is going to come off as judgmental, but this scene drives me insane. Our kids share an iPad mini, but they don’t use it much, and we certainly wouldn’t allow them to do so in a restaurant to keep them quiet.

Like Shawn, I don’t want my kids to feel shameful about using technology, but I do want them to know there are boundaries when it comes to such things, especially when it comes to dealing with other people.

All that aside, the most guilt-inducing part of these articles? The fact that I screw this sort of thing up all the time.

Computing With Kids »

If you’ve got kids, you should check out the latest episode of the Mac Power Users podcast. It’s a great one.

Apple’s Not A Parent »

Jim Dalrymple:

The simple fact is, as parents, it’s up to us to monitor what our kids do with technology or any toy. If you choose not to use the included controls because they are a hassle, then that’s your choice. You made that decision.

This.

‘A Pain in My Chest’ »

Ben Brooks, writing about his daughter’s recent surgery:

We knew the wait wouldn’t be easy, and as we waited for the 10 minute surgery to be completed we were both beyond stressed, nervous, and hopeful. It seemed like an hour passed. We got the call to head back, and when we came back to our daughter, who was screaming, it wasn’t a pleasant sight.

She was in pain and not around anyone that she knew. She was scared. It was a terrible sight for any parent.

Stellar piece.

LeVar Burton, on Reading 

…in an interview with Ars’ Jacqui Cheng:

This is one of the reasons it was so important to me, from a personal level, to bring Reading Rainbow to this new generation of kids, to try and do something about it. Here’s what I know: in 26 years on PBS, we were able to—through the medium of television—have an impact on the reading habits of children. I want to see if we can make light and do it again.

As a parent, I’m psyched about the iPad’s role in my kids’ education.