Toddlers with iPads

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My kids are 2 and 3 years old. Heading out with them is usually a fun adventure. They’re used to visiting malls, restaurants, and going on road trips since my husband and I have traveled almost nonstop since they were born. But they’re toddlers and toddlers have their moments.

We usually bring the iPad with us if we’re headed to a non child oriented establishment. It’s our security blanket. If someone starts to get loud or cranky we can usually avert disaster with a fun game or movie. We don’t always use it but it’s nice to have it just in case. No child wants to spend a few hours at the mall but it’s a necessary evil. The iPad helps make long trips less painful for everyone.

I noticed recently that when my two-year-old is seated in her stroller using the iPad we receive a lot of sideways glances. Most aren’t friendly looks. I asked my husband whether he noticed it too or if I was being paranoid because I read about some crazed woman stealing an iPad from a 3-year-old. He confirmed that there had been an abundance of salty looks in our direction since we handed our daughter the iPad.

We talked about it and he speculated that it isn’t common to see a young child with such an expensive toy. Perhaps people see it as an extravagance? I hadn’t considered that. We’ve had that iPad since before my daughter was born (we got another one for adult use since the kids commandeered the first model) and it’s second nature for me to hand it off mindlessly when a public meltdown is imminent. It must be pretty serious to some people judging by the looks we get.

I don’t see a problem with it. My mom bought me a GameBoy and every other super awesome video game system that hit the scene since Atari. Thanks mom! It’s a toy like her wooden castle or blocks. It also happens to be portable and fantastic for allowing my husband and I to get tedious tasks done without having to wrangle two little kids. I understand the privilege that some might see in giving a toddler an iPad as a toy. Am I supposed to consider what strangers might take issue with before handing my child a toy?

We pay our bills, give to charity, and are responsible adults. Why can’t our kids have nice things? I see teenagers driving Maseratis on the college campus where my husband attends school as we pass by in our hoopty. I’m not mad at them or their parents. They probably slaved away at the office to be able to afford that lifestyle. Good for them.

We’re not overly materialistic people and we don’t rely on the iPad to babysit our kids. It’s a toy we all enjoy and insurance against potential screaming fits in the car, possible wiling out at restaurants, or boredom at shops. I’m blessed with two social kids who are accustomed to dining out, long stints in our SUV, and shopping but for everyone’s benefit I do what I can to avoid any avoidable public disturbances. The iPad does the trick and it’s not going anywhere. Salty looks or not.

The funny thing is if we happened to have an unfortunate toddler incident you know there’d be plenty of sideways glances due to our “unruly children” and perceived parental shortcomings. It seems parents can’t win when out in public these days. Either way someone is judging therefore we do what works for us.

Or maybe we’re reading too much into it and those people are just mad because they want an iPad. Can’t blame them. They are pretty sweet.

What do you think? Toddlers with iPads. Do or don’t?
Veronica Armstrong is a photographer, blogger, and freelance writer whose stories spring from the cinderblock walls of her married graduate student apartment. You can find her on Google+ or see more of her writing and photography on her blog.

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