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Social Media Holiday Tablet Frenzy

By Kristen Abbondante, Ph.D.

Family enjoying time together with the new tablet

It's that time of year again! Shopping, making Christmas lists and deciding if the new tablet is right for your child this year. Remember when desktops were the only devices in your home? IPads, Kindles, Minis, Galaxies…how are parents supposed to keep up? With the constant change of today's technology, Boys Town Pediatrics offers tips to help decide if a tablet is the right gift for your child this holiday season.

  • Usage. Help your child explore all the positive aspects technology has to offer. Balance the amount of time allowed on the tablet with other extracurricular activities. Consider incorporating the tablet in your family time with a family game night, FaceTime distant relatives and watch funny videos.
  • Educate yourself. Learn about passwords, privacy settings, internet access and sharing options. Discuss concerns with your phone carrier or tablet supplier. They can help answer questions about the product that may apply to your child's needs.
  • Mistakes. Children will make mistakes when using their electronics. The goal is help your child learn from their mistakes by setting expectations and implementing consistent positive and negative consequences.
  • Be a filter. Although your child has access to a wealth of information, there are numerous apps, access levels (i.e. Wi-Fi vs. 3G) and privacy settings. Read the information provided by the app store, monitor use and slowly add access.
  • Be a good model. How often are you on your phone/tablet? Do you use your electronics at dinner-time or in the middle of a conversation? Your children are watching you and you can model how to use these devices appropriately.
  • Not bad, just new. Our mode of communication has shifted. Don't fight it. Be willing to evolve and learn. Join social media sites, text and make a Vlog (video blog). Get involved and ask questions about games your kids enjoy, sites they frequent or YouTube channels they follow.

Tablet Pros and Cons

  • The good. Tablets have numerous free and affordable Applications (Apps) that provide access to world news, writing/recording music (GarageBand), improving health and fitness, entertainment (games, television streaming) and much more.
  • The Bad. Without the correct privacy settings and restrictions on tablets, children have the ability to access "whoever" and "whatever" and can also leave a digital permanent record because nothing is ever truly deleted.
  • The Ugly. Sexting, cyberbullying and pedophiles. These are three words parents hope they never hear. Although these topics are concerning, they are not the norm and there are steps to help prevent these circumstances.

A tablet is not only a huge responsibility for your child but a huge responsibility for parents. So is a tablet a right fit for your child this holiday season? Hopefully these tips can help you figure out if you are up for the challenge! Now if only I can figure out how to use a hashtag. We will save that for another article.