Yes, My Toddler Has a Tablet

Before my son was born, I was adamant: no devices. I was even on the fence about the TV, but I couldn’t be that mean to my husband. Still, I was confident that my children would not have their own devices until they were probably teenagers. I had spent my whole childhood playing and fully expected my children would do the same (no cable until I was 15 made it easy!)

But he turned 1 and barely said anything. He was a little over 13 months before he said his first word. We tried everything to get him to talk. He understood everything we said, but wouldn’t or couldn’t say much.

By the time he was 18 months, I knew he had a speech delay, but his pediatrician told me they wouldn’t test him until he was 2. That left 6 long months before my suspicions could be confirmed.

While we waited, I started working with children with autism again. This time, I was issued an iPad to use with the kids. I didn’t believe in using devices with toddlers, so I tried not to use it. But when I did, when my supervisor said to use it, I saw one of my clients really take off. It was motivating and programs were mastered faster. And I began to think maybe there is a case for devices at an early age.

Then I thought: if this works with children with autism, could it work with my son?

My son was 20 months when we got him an Amazon Fire for kids. It took him a couple of days to warm up to it, but, when he figured out how to use it, the first thing he did was find the truck and bus videos. A few weeks later, he was saying truck and bus.

My leap of faith was working. Of course, he didn’t start talking overnight. He was still diagnosed with a speech delay. But he was saying a good dozen words by the time he started speech therapy. He was surprising us and his therapist with new words. He was picking things up from the games and videos he had found. He had learned his colors 4 months after starting speech.

My son is 3.5 and graduated from speech therapy after a year. He talks up a storm now and still learns new things from his tablet. The awesome thing about him, though, is he regulates his use on his own. He balances tablet time and playing with his toys himself.

So, yes, my toddler has his very own tablet. It wasn’t what I had planned, but he shows me every single day it was a good idea.



8 thoughts on “Yes, My Toddler Has a Tablet”

  • Hi, I’m struggling with the tablet/phone topic too. I think they are great resources for education, as you explained, but I think that there is a fine line between “use this device to learn” and letting the device be the babysitter. What has your experience been in that regard?

    • I don’t actually even use it for education. At first, I would sit right next to him as he used it and used my language to help him learn to use his. As he got older, I started using it more for other kinds of learning as he discovered games, like listening to and following directions, left and right, object identification, learning to do things in order, etc. Now, I still do this, but if he wants videos that Kindle FreeTime doesn’t approve, then he has to put in part of the alphabet so we can teach him the lower case letters. Of course, there are also periods when he just wants to be left alone and explore his own interests.

      I really don’t mind that he has access to technology, but, just as with TV or even books, I am usually not far and talking to him about what he is doing and viewing. I don’t believe in using devices as a babysitter. These days it’s mostly something he can use to give himself a time out. I think he’s either introverted, and I can’t wait until he can read, or his sister is just too loud and always wants his stuff and he needs a break from her.

      Good luck making a decision! It’s different for every family and every child is different.

  • I always said the same thing! My daughter is 6 and doesn’t have an iPad but she does use my MIL’s and she has an old phone of mine (not hooked to anything, simply uses wifi) and she has some educational games/apps on there. My oldest (stepdaughter) has a tablet at her moms, but same thing. Educational games and limit does tend to be limited 🙂

    • That’s great! I sometimes wish I had remained firm, but, well, circumstances and desperation. Technology can be good, especially if used correctly, but kids really do benefit more from just playing.

  • Electronics are a controversial topic amongst parents for sure. We are a family that is pro-electronics. My son also suffered a speech delay and didn’t speak until he was 3. I definitely feel like constant exposure to speech, even if it was Diego or Dora, was beneficial as well as speech therapy and switching him to a 100% organic diet. I do not limit screen time, BUT I make an effort to get us all outside and away from the screens constantly. A few of our homeschool lessons are online, but outdoor play is a must also. It’s all about balance and what works for each family. 😊

    • Yes! We do the same! Even though I was initially against it, the fact is that kids are growing up with rapidly advancing technology and I would rather my kids know the basics so they can grow with it. Unlike me, who freaks out when my computer does something unexpected and couldn’t even figure out how to turn on an iPad 2 years ago!

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