As you know, kids are like magnets when it comes to tablets (or in our house IPads). I know that our two little ones love nothing more than to earn their tablet time and once they have hold of said technology, they are reluctant to give it up for love nor money. The thing of it is, whilst I have a love-hate relationship with tablets and my children, they can come in rather useful at times. I will openly admit (so shoot me now) to using tablets for the following:
- Distracting my children enough so that they will eat certain foods, they are far too absorbed in the iPad to notice what may be about to enter their mouths. Score 0-1
- Distracting my children whilst they are about to undergo a medical procedure e.g when getting an injection. Score 0-2
- Providing entertainment for my children whilst I have to get jobs done, such as when I had to keep my kids occupied at the table for their own safety last week, whilst I swept away smashed glass from the floor. Score 0-3
- Providing entertainment during long haul travel. Score 1-3 (turns out most apps are useless without an Internet connection).
- Minimising a melt down by enabling my children to access even more sodding Peppa Pig without having to put up with endless blumming adverts on channels such as Nick Junior. Score 2-3, that Pig irritates me so much that even whilst my kids might be happy, I’m bleeping not!
- Allowing my child to relax when he gets stressed out, by flinging tiny multicoloured birds at little green pigs for ten minutes or so. Score 3-3, I can’t say it’s ever worked for me but it certainly seems to for him!
Before you begin the online Mummy bashing by suggesting that I allow my kids too much tech time, please be assured that usually we limit their ‘Tablet time’ by means of a voucher system where they must earn minutes.
Anyhow, getting back on track, one of the things that seems to attract kids to tablets these days is TV. Seriously, something like 60% of kids TV viewing is now through tablet form! Our kids much prefer the oddities of the Internet to kids TV. They seem to home in on ‘surprise egg videos‘ and ‘stampy minecraft guides‘ like moths to a light. Why on earth would you find watching a stranger open cheap chocolate eggs with crappy plastic toys inside so addictive I have absolutely no idea, but it seems to be E’s current fad.
It used to be that I’d sit by my kids as they used their tablets watching them like a hawk. I am all too aware just how bleeding dangerous the Internet can be. YouTube is a complete minefield of bombs waiting to blow up in your children’s faces. So much as searching for Postman Pat and suddenly they can be watching a Geordie dubbed episode of Postman Pat which includes almost every expletive you can think of. Hilarious it was but not something I really wanted J to see aged 2… A good example of these YouTube minefield issues is demonstrated by Marv on a video recently shared by CBeebies on social media platforms (see below)
I too suffered from this issue as a parent myself way back when YouTube was just that, one app available to all. Now however, I have become wise to Internet TV. I no longer have open access on the iPads for the children, they have restricted apps and YouTube has been completely removed and is no longer on either of their tablets. Neither is the ability to install or delete apps, make in-app purchases or pretty much anything else that they might fancy having a stab at..
They now have a far safer, child friendly and even educational app, yes I can actually say that I believe this app may teach my kids a thing or two (other than how crap the contents of most Kinder eggs can be)! So what is this wonder I speak of that is indeed available for IOS and Android (and whatever else might be out there in terms of operating systems) ? Well ladies and jellytots, it’s no big secret, yet it seems as if nobody has heard of this amazing app… It’s ‘You Tube Kids’.
‘You Tube Kids’ is a completely free app which makes all viewing suitable for kids, therefore allowing us parents to breathe a sigh of relief and go to the loo or even empty the dishwasher, without having to permanently hover over our kids. Both of my kids love using the app and I feel that I can finally relax during ‘tablet time’.
I still keep a close eye on what they are using and watching when they are using their tablets, but I’m far more relaxed now that I know they are viewing content suitable for their individual ages. Score 4-4 : a drawer to be exact, it’s a win-win! Although I am still adamant that surprise egg videos should be put into the Room 101 of the Internet and be banned. What the hell is the fascination!?