Arty has his own iPad. It’s a mini, it’s encased in one of those bomb-proof covers, and it’s loaded to capacity with games that he loves. You’d think that he’d be obsessed with it, and begging to play with it all the time, wouldn’t you?
I’d say he says a casual “no thanks” at least three out of every five times I suggest he sit and have a play with it.
He definitely picks it up most days, and on days when his energy’s low or he’s been sick he might pick it up a little more than usual, but he’s not constantly on the thing. He likes it, but he’s not glued to it.
I put this down to one thing: It’s pretty much always available to him. With a couple of definite exceptions, he’s allowed to use it whenever he wants.
Those few exceptions are:
- When he has a friend over to play,
- mealtimes, and the last hour or so before bed,
- if the TV’s on (we’re a very pro-screen family, but the limit is one screen at a time).
The consequence of this lack of restriction, is that the iPad hasn’t ever taken on the mystical quality of forbidden fruit. Arty knows it’s valuable, and that he’s very lucky to have one, but he can self regulate his engagement with it because it’s just always there.
Pretty simple, right?
If you’ve got a kid who’s obsessed with the iPad, have a go at giving them free access to it for a while, and see if it takes on a different quality for them too.
N.B. I’ve got two big qualifiers for this post:
First, I recognise that this is an epic first world problem. But I’m raising a first world kid, and the iPad is part of his life, so here we are.
Second, I’m raising a (thus far) neurotypical kid, and I wouldn’t want to suggest that what works for him would necessarily work for a kid on the spectrum, or with other factors that might alter their attention or focus.