It may be just a few days past Halloween, but I’ve already received a holiday wish list from my nine-year-old daughter. Actually, I first got her list this past summer and it includes just one item. This “list” has been left on my pillow, in my closet, on the dashboard of my car, in the refrigerator, and several other unsuspecting places. So what is she asking for? An Apple iPod touch. No surprise there.
I try to argue that she’s too young for an expensive and advanced electronic “toy,” but in response, she challenges me with: “Name one other nine-year who doesn’t have one.” I usually can rattle off at least one or two names if I’m lucky, but the list of nine-year-olds without an iPod touch keeps getting shorter and shorter. And I’m actually not surprised by that either.
In the spirit of the upcoming holiday season, I ask, “How soon is too soon for an iPod touch?” Similarly, what is the suggested age for an iPhone? Or an iPad? How about a Kindle Fire? I know lots of kids in elementary school have these fancy gadgets, so I’m sure there are plenty of parents out there who can weigh in!
There are obvious pros and cons for giving our kids these devices, and I’d love to know where you stand on these issues. Here is the list I am currently pondering regarding the iPod touch…
~ I will get my own devices back. It’s pretty clear most of her friends have some kind of device because I am the lucky recipient of their text messages and FaceTime requests. (It’s actually kind of nice to be able to follow the chain of text messages which I know won’t be the case if/when my daughter gets an iPod touch.)
~ Access during emergency situations. It will be nice to have a way to text my daughter – and have her text me – should there ever be an emergency. (Same rings true with a cell phone where a child can actually call you – or 411 – if need be.)
~ I won’t have to buy expensive voice and data plans with an iPod touch, right?
~ The biggest pro (and this is for my daughter’s sake) is the fun factor – all the apps, games, videos, music and other things on an iPod touch.
~ Cost. I’m not talking about whether or not it’s affordable, but the notion of gifting a $200+ “toy” to a nine-year-old (in my opinion) seems a bit high. Do we talk to our child about the expense of such a gift so they continue to understand the value of a dollar? Or am I being a ninny and taking all the fun away?
~Misplacement and breakage factor. Again, relating to cost and age of child receiving this gift – anytime she takes the iPod touch out of the house I will have continuous heart attacks until it returns home safely.
~ Managing screen time and blocking content. It will be no different from other “screen toys” with time limitations, and since she will have this device in her own possession, setting up parental controls is a must. But, I’m glad to learn that Apple offers this option.
~ Competition from siblings. Ridiculous, I know. My son is only six but has has to have everything his big sister has. But, if we agree to an iPod touch for a nine-year-old, that will have to be our minimum age requirement.
Now it’s your turn. If you have an elementary age child with an iPod touch and/or cell phone or other internet-based device, at what age did they receive them? Did you feel that age was too early, too late, or just right – and why? What have been the benefits? What have been the drawbacks? If you could pick one device as the best choice for elementary aged children, which would it be? (Hint: My husband is pushing to nix my daughter’s iPod touch request and replace it with a Kindle Fire. Is that a bad idea?)
If you have other advice to share, please chime in!