Monday, February 6, 2012

Technology Boy

Like a lot of kids these days, Ian loves technology. He can play some of the simple motion-control games on the Wii, and Nintendogs on the DS. He begs to play with our cell phones, can completely use the TV remote, and could spend hours flipping through (and probably accidentally deleting) the pictures on the digital camera. In this everything-technology age, it's probably a good thing that he can easily figure out gadgets, but it can be concerning as a parent when all your child wants to do is play with screens, instead of real toys.

Ian playing Nintendo DS
 Besides being a source of entertainment, some electronic devices can really aid learning and teach skills. Ian has some fine motor delays and we've found that touch screen devices such as the Nintendo DS and the iPad really motivate him to work on fine motor skills. Recently he began writing letters unassisted on the iPad, and can now write "cat" and "Ian" with only some verbal help. He's also able to communicate better with his iPad app Proloquo2go. Even letting him play Angry Birds for a little while helps with his motor control and finger strength. At this time last year he could only hold up one, two, or five fingers on his hand. Now he can do any number rather effortlessly.

Ian can write his name on the iPad touch screen
 Though much of Ian's world revolves around when he can play with his iPad or our cell phones, we try to limit how much he uses them. Since eating meals is one of Ian's challenges we use iPad time as a reward for eating well. He's learning that he needs to show good behavior to get the things he wants, and that what he wants will be taken away if he's throwing tantrums. The best strategies we've learned is to set expectations, boundaries, and time limits when it comes to technology.

No doubt, Ian loves the Nintendo DS, our cell phones, and his iPad, but will usually forgo them all to have a book read to him, or to play any game where he gets to throw something. As long as he continues to value books and actual toys along with screens, I can be a content parent.

Ian reading to his little sister

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