By Amy L. Hatch
There’s no getting around that fact that we’re raising a generation of native users when it comes to technology, and I, for one, couldn’t be happier.
Yes, of course, there’s always the debate about screen time vs. time engaged in “old-fashioned” play, but we’re also living in a world where being connected to our families often means being in touch with them via digital means — and lots and lots of travel.
For the past six years, we’ve been making the 1,200-mile (and sometimes more) car trip to see our extended families back East. That’s a lot of miles, friends and neighbors, when you’re traveling with two hostages ages 7 and 3.
While we play our share of “Count the Trucks” and “I Spy,” there’s something to be said for handing the kids their gadgets and enjoying the silence.
Some friends recently asked my opinion on which device — iPod Touch or Nintendo DS — I’d recommend for a long plane trip with a couple of layovers. My answer? iPod Touch, hands down.
A new iPod Touch will run you $200 new, but you can also find refurbished devices on auction sites like eBay and even at the Apple Store for less. This device is perfect for kids: It’s pretty durable and easily protected with a hard case, there are hundreds of great educational and free apps available, it is wireless enabled and it also doubles, of course, as a music and video player. The newest generation also includes a camera, one that is better than the digital camera with which I took pictures on my honeymoon.
The newest operating system for the device also allows kids to send iMessages (a kind of text message). Our 7-year-old texts her grandmothers, me and her father, and yes, it’s totally safe. We manage and monitor her contacts via iCloud (a virtual storage space, you get a certain amount of space free) and she can only iMessage when she’s on a wireless network. Generally, that’s only in our home.
The iPod Touch also grows with your kid, and doesn’t require 1,000 tiny cartridges of which to keep track. You can connect to any available wireless network and you can also enable these babies for 3G access as your child grows older, should you chose to.
Yes, it’s pricey, but if you’re considering a tech investment for your kid, this is where you should spend your money.
Our daughter uses her iPod Touch to listen to her music every day, and she also uses it to look up random facts that she has questions about, like why there is no gravity in space. She draws, reads and learns her math facts using her apps — and, when we are in the car, she can put on her headphones and watch a downloaded movie for an hour and 30 minutes.
That’s 90 minutes during which she is NOT bickering with her little brother, and that? Is priceless.