Setting up an ipad for a toddler
November 27, 2018 5:55 AM   Subscribe

I need to upgrade my ipad for work and am thinking about giving my six-year-old iPad Mini to my toddler. Tips, tweaks, app suggestions? Should I?

On the 'should I' front, I always swore I'd keep him away from apps as long as possible. But I am struggling to figure out how this will be different for him than any other toy which talks. I have noticed for example that he has started repeating things that the talking fisher price toys say, so I think a carefully curated setup of educational apps might benefit him. But am I opening up a Pandora's box?

On the kid-proofing front, I have seen some tutorials online for enabling kid restrictions and I will do that. I'm just hoping for some tweaks from parents who have done this already. And for any good app suggestions for a two-year-old whose speech is suddenly blooming :-)

I wouldn't be doing this quite so soon if I didn't need to replace this iPad anyway. I know its resale value is pretty much nil, so I'd rather give him this than one of those fake baby computer toys as I think he can grow with it more. And he does have toys already which talk, so I'm not really understanding why this would be different?
posted by ficbot to Technology (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I did find that removing the tablet from my 2yo elicited screams that no talking toy ever did. It’s not the talking that I think was the draw - the tablet was completely visually mesmerizing (and optimized to be so), instantly responsive to his every tiny touch (again, optimized to be so), that is, purposefully designed in its UX to keep him looking and touching and continuing for as long as possible. And it worked!

Anyway I put some apps on an old iPad like the Alphatots and Endless and Toca shapes apps, and put everything else in a folder I hid on the back screen so he wouldn’t accidentally open them. I put in YouTube kids but later on had to uninstall it as given the option to interact or guzzle videos guess which he preferred. We started at about 2 years old ... at 3.5 we took iPad away and made it just a travel companion as he was more than a little crazy about it. We don’t regret letting him having it to try out and it worked for our needs for awhile, and we don’t regret getting it out of our lives when it was clear it was time. He gets some occasional tablet time in school now.
posted by sestaaak at 6:18 AM on November 27, 2018 [1 favorite]

You will find that the iPad has a pull like no talking toy ever did. My kids (4.5 and 6) don’t have one, but on the rare occasion I have let them use ours (usually long waits in waiting rooms), they have been absolutely transfixed. I think the Pandora’s box issue deserves a lot of consideration. We know (or at least I sure do) how addictive screens can be.

With all that said, we are giving them Kindle Fires for kids for Christmas because my son’s kindergarten teacher recommended a reading app. But there will be big time restrictions on screen time and content.
posted by amro at 6:57 AM on November 27, 2018

Are the kid's tactile skills fully developed yet? Like can they hold a spoon? That would probably be my go-ahead point. I think there's a bit of concern about real-world tactile skills being affected by touch screen use.
posted by aspersioncast at 7:14 AM on November 27, 2018 [1 favorite]

At 2, the iPad was for special occasions; specifically airplane trips and doctor's office. However, I do not regret for a second having a dedicated kid iPad for this purpose that WAS NOT MINE. I removed all adult apps, hid ones that shouldn't be removed but also shouldn't be accessed without supervision, and downloaded an assortment of kid apps. I also enabled some restrictions like no purchases from the app store and no deleting apps.

BURN YOUTUBE WITH FIRE. Hide Safari. Netflix is your call (use a kid profile).

Do get a large obnoxious protective case so it won't get broken.

We finally last year "upgraded" one kid's Original iPad to an iPad 2 discarded by my parents, and the other kid has my old iPad 3. They're old and creaky and they don't run everything anymore, but they work well enough for the kids.

Our current rules are that they can play weekend mornings from 6:30am until we get up, and my 8yo is allowed up to 30 minutes of iPad time in the evening after 5yo goes to bed. And, of course, the aforementioned airplane trips/doctor's office.
posted by telepanda at 7:17 AM on November 27, 2018 [4 favorites]


Quoted for truth. You do not want your kid to discover the hellhole that is YouTube as a youngster close to me did under lax supervision (not mine, as it happens). Do not go there like, for years and years and years.
posted by Bella Donna at 8:37 AM on November 27, 2018 [1 favorite]

Be sure to buy a really good protective case. My kid bit the screen (why? because kid!!) and they drop them constantly. Do not expect them to take care of them at all. Expect that you will have to manage charging until they are well into school.

I'm not anti-youtube like many, but if you want to avoid youtube, there are good Signing Time apps for going to the bathroom, learning, and also coloring apps. My kids loved those.

My kids have had them since they were babies, they have a draw but my younger likes toys more and my older is constantly watching videos on crafting, and learning sign language and Spanish, which is a much better way to spend time than I did at her age.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:45 AM on November 27, 2018

YouTube Kids is working out well for my grand-nieces and -nephews. Their parents have found a way to lock the kids into that app and that app only.

When I say "working out well" I mean that the kids enjoy it and there's nothing objectionable in YouTube Kids. I express no opinion beyond that.
posted by JimN2TAW at 9:39 AM on November 27, 2018 [1 favorite]

Once your child is old enough to read fluently, understand some basic lessons on internet safety, AND FOLLOW THEM, then you can gradually allow them to use things with open ended search (safari, youtube, etc). But seriously, whitelisted environments until they're a competent reader and have a basic idea of spelling.

Don't be me, who once came downstairs to my 4yo bemusedly examining anime slasher bondage porn because he google image searched "blud". (A major hatch-battening promptly ensued)
posted by telepanda at 11:30 AM on November 27, 2018 [1 favorite]

My 2-year-old plays games on the phone, and I plan to upgrade to an iPad Mini with the same apps. Do not get any apps with in-app purchases. Fox & Sheep, Toca Boca, and Sago Mini are good developers without annoying in-app ads. I supervised them all at first, but now I trust her to play the ones I know for 10-15 minutes on her own. It's great to see her gradually develop tapping, sliding, and zooming motor skills ("toothbrush" games took a few months to learn).

It's a good way to wind down after a physical activity, or a distraction to keep quiet at the bank, or to keep tiny hands from picking at a band-aid. But I wouldn't do it every day at this age. Playing games or watching videos first thing in the morning always leads to tantrums.

Set up Guided Access mode to lock the device into a single app and disable parts of the screen and set a time limit.
posted by Phssthpok at 4:57 PM on November 27, 2018

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