Friday, August 26, 2011

What sort of iPad ground rules can I set-up?


Depending on your child's age, it may be a good idea to think about and set up a few usage guidelines before handing an expensive tablet. 

We made a few mistakes with "Mini Me" in the beginning and thought it was worth sharing a few of our lessons learned ;-) 

  • the iPad is fragile and doesn't really like to be spread with jam: 
    Try setting up a routine that includes washing hands and sitting comfortably in a safe place (ie. where you don't run the risk of being pestered by siblings or pets) before using the iPad.
    Equip your tablet with high a quality protective case and film, and insist that it's called an iPad "Touch" and not an iPad "Punch".

  • iPad usage has to be earned: It can be used as a reward or punishment. It can be amazing fun as well as a great learning tool, however it should not take priority over their homework. For the smallest ones, it can be a reward for tidying up their toys, picking up their blankie and teddy bear or behaving well (e.g. no temper tantrums).  

  • Ready, Steady, Calculate! The iPad is a screen too! It counts towards the global hours of media time just like the TV, computer and other video games. Even though screen time can be educational, you might consider keeping your child's overall usage in check by:- Setting different rules for school days vs. weekends/holidays.- Defining frequency (e.g. only 2 days per week), specific days (e.g. only the weekend) and the number of minutes or apps they can visualize.
    - Suggesting other activities or linking "real" activities in follow-up to the app content (e.g. drawing or baking gingerbread men after reading the story).


  • It turns out to create real noise pollution at times. Try defining a sound volume that is acceptable with both you and your child (e.g. by limiting the number of small squares highlighted on the volume indicator).Avoid headphones as long 
    as you can, or if they are sometimes needed try to limit the frequency and length of use. Headphone use can lead to temporary or permanent hearing impairment, or ringing/buzzing in the ear (e.g. persistent tinnitus, which can be an early indication of hearing loss). If headphones are eventually an option that interests you, it's worth investing in a high-quality pair such as one that conforms to CE certification standards.

  • The app store is off limits. A beginner's mistake (well, ours at least was to purchase apps sitting next to our child... The purchase process is very easy and they love clicking on that green button! Consider deactivating the application installation and deletion options, which can be found in the Restrictions section of the System preferences.


  • We also advise you to screen the app / eBook content before handing it to your child, a pre-check that you probably already do for printed materials. It is always beneficial to verify the quality of the texts and illustrations, the ideas and values expressed as well as the games offered. From our past experience, this small step will help you avoid bad surprises. While Apple teams do filter all the apps submitted by developers, parental vigilance is still our best bet.

  • Consider cutting off Internet access!
    Some apps have pop-ups (windows) that advertise additional apps for purchase. Once you have entered your iTunes password on the iPad, you remain logged in. If you forget to log out, your child has only to click on the green button to activate a purchase. A quick way to limit their access to web and thus in app purchases is to set your iPad to "Airplane Mode" in the Settings folder. Otherwise,  you can set up a password or enable restrictions to access Safari, YouTube, iTunes... in System preferences Settings > General > Restrictions.

  • Last but not least, you show him/her
     how to turn the machine off and on 
    by pressing and holding the Sleep/Wake button for a few seconds until the red "slide to power off" slider appears.


Do you have other experiences and ideas to share on this topic? Don't hesitate to let us know! We welcome suggestions; they'll help to improve this list on a regular basis.  
We look forward to reading you! 

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