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Tablets for little kids.


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I've been toying with the idea of getting tablet(s) for my kids (5 and almost 4). Opinions wanted.

My thoughts are there seems to be a lot or a few good apps/games out there for learning. Yes I could do the same activity and bring out all the stuff but having it in app form might be nice so I don't have to bring out all the stuff (sound matching for almost 4 year old comes to mind). There are some ebook things out there and that might be nice additions (my library has something and I think the state of CA has something too at least for this year). Math games I always enjoyed those as a kid and I felt like they helped me with calculation speed. I could use the AAR letter app instead of having the little magnets. 

I'd still do the bulk of school stuff with books, paper, and hands on stuff. Tablet will be a supplement. 

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Think long and hard before introducing a tablet. I have heard of so much regret from parents who bought them, just for educational purposes. But the kids learn far quicker than adults how to access everything else. Then they whinge to use them all the time. Then the parents tear their hair out over screentime. 

We borrowed my mum's old IPAD for one week. After that I returned it. It really wasn't worth the behaviours it caused.

If you do get one, make sure you don't say it's 'theirs'. It's all over after that. 'But it's mine! You said it was! So why can't I use it? I'm just changing the background!' (takes two hours, it's super garish. This then occurs every time). 

My kids used activities on my laptop until they got their own (age 9). I can't say this enough - if you get a laptop, put Qustodio on it. You won't think you need it until you do. And then you'll really wish you put it on BEFORE they saw what they saw online. 

 

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When I was little, I played Speller Bee and Writer/Reader Rabbit on our computer.  There was no Internet, so I could only play those games, and it was educational.

Now I have never bought my children tablets, but Grandma bought them those Kindle kid tablets.  I'd feel guilty about tossing them in the trash, but that would be my preferred destination for them.  We failed at setting boundaries with them---and even with boundaries, I feel like they "race" to get to the tablet instead of immersing themselves in books or other things. 

I'm thinking a lot of parents do it better than us, but I am definitely one with regrets.  

 

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6 hours ago, Clarita said:

Opinions wanted.

Opinions here. I own a bunch of tablets, (android, ipad, kindle fire) and have used them for a LONG TIME with ds. Ds is diagnosed with ASD2 and all the SLDs (reading, writing, math), so we had a variety of reasons, some good some less than stellar, to use tablets.

The single best use for a tablet at this age is audiobooks.

The single worst use is to keep them busy. I'm so sad to see a child entertained by a tablet in a restaurant when adults should be talking to the dc or leaving them with a sitter who would. We used apps on the phone to keep my ds occupied in the early years because he was SO challenging in stores. Reality was we needed ABA and with that things improved. 

I'm middle of the road on addictive games. Pick your poison there. You probably have things you do to waste time so it's pretty hypocritical for someone to say wasting it on a consuming game is more/less bad than another time waster.  

Tablets for education, hmm. Really depends on which tablet you're buying. A low price tablet like a kindle fire is perfect with little kids as an ebook and audiobook device. You can get into one for maybe $69 and it's durable, compatible with library lending (or in our case BARD/NLS) and just a brilliant thing for the money. Also runs some pitsy little games that can be nice time wasters like animal simulators. But when you ask about running the AAS app on that or looking at pdfs or viewing ebooks, you're probably going to need to move over to an ipad. That's a totally different pricepoint and that's more of Mom's tool, kwim? I have one (just the cheapest "student" version that is maybe $229, I forget) that is adequate to run Civ for my ds (yes) and view my ebooks and pdfs and stuff that needs more power. I also take it on trips, etc. But that's overkill with little kids and is more of something you might want.

Are you currently doing anything on your phone? It's nice to think "oh I'll do math with apps on it" but which apps? I think the math apps we did that ds really enjoyed (Nooms? I forget) were in fact available on the kindle. And for drill I tended to load those apps onto my phone just because it's more convenient to have something small to whip out and practice anywhere. When he was younger and learning to read we used Quizlet a LOT and that I would run both on my phone and on the kindle fire. So you might find an inexpensive kindle fire could get you enough function for a while. 

I don't have wifi at my house and I liked the parental controls on the kindle fire. Actually he's still on a kindle fire, uses it every day. He's 13 now and up until a year ago he was still using the smaller size. I like the one with the double speakers because it has more volume when playing audiobooks (our main use). Now he has their larger size kindle fire, which is a really stellar device for the money. With the kindle fire he can play audiobooks *while* playing an app, so that's what he tends to do. The kindle fire uses a picture cover flow for audiobooks, which is ideal for pre-readers. And like I said the parental controls are much more fine tuned on the kindle fire. 

Younger kids tend to do better with manipulatives physically available in front of them and I tend to go in and out of using the app versions. I personally wouldn't buy a $$$ tablet for capabilities you don't really need yet.

With the parental controls, you can lock down wifi access, limit types of things they can do, limit the hours, whatever you want. It can be a pandora's box but it can also be toned down to be what you want it to be too. It's true that many apps are meant to be addictive and that screen time increases dopamine levels. Screen addiction is so common an issue that parents are now paying for classes on Outschool about it. 

https://steverosephd.com/why-are-video-games-addictive/

I don't think screen addiction is the only thing our culture has going. Look at the casinos on cruises, participation on the boards, people on FB and other social media, and gaming systems. They're ALL set up to be addictive. You want to use the parental controls and think through it very carefully. A tablet that you don't allow to be connected to the internet except on the occasions when you enter the password and do it, is pretty easy to control. It's a great tool for audiobooks, ebooks, basic apps, etc. If your kids can do it, the immersion reading (where it shows the ebook and plays the audio while highlighting as it reads) is tremendous. 

 

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40 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

Tablets for education, hmm. Really depends on which tablet you're buying. A low price tablet like a kindle fire is perfect with little kids as an ebook and audiobook device. You can get into one for maybe $69 and it's durable, compatible with library lending (or in our case BARD/NLS) and just a brilliant thing for the money. Also runs some pitsy little games that can be nice time wasters like animal simulators. But when you ask about running the AAS app on that or looking at pdfs or viewing ebooks, you're probably going to need to move over to an ipad. That's a totally different pricepoint and that's more of Mom's tool, kwim?

These are some good points. Totally the type of opinion I'm looking for by the way. Yes the audiobooks is the big thing attracting me to a tablet. Then when I think of getting a tablet I do want some bells and whistles like being able to use the AAS/AAR app... I guess I should have know that would suddenly become a tablet that can play Civ (not exactly what I'm looking for). 

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Posted (edited)
6 minutes ago, Clarita said:

Yes the audiobooks is the big thing attracting me to a tablet.

The kindle fire HD8 will do that just fine for a very low price and have excellent parental controls. You don't even have to keep it connected to the internet except to download. At that point it's just a newfangled CD player, lol. If you do that, locking it down and keeping it offline and limiting what is on it, you'll be happy.

You'll know when you're ready for a bigger tablet that does more things. My ds has been using tablets like this since he was about 5 and we're on probably our 4th or 5th kindle fire. It's nice to have an inexpensive product so you don't cry when they crack the glass while running, drop it in the tub, etc. It's really a durable little thing, lol.

Edited by PeterPan
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1 minute ago, PeterPan said:

It's nice to have an inexpensive product so you don't cry when they crack the glass while running, drop it in the tub, etc. It's really a durable little thing, lol.

Yes, yes it is. Actually All About Reading says it'll work with the Fire. I guess I can be on the look out for a Kindle Fire sale as long as DH approves. 

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9 minutes ago, Clarita said:

play Civ

I'd rather my ds plays Civ than Zelda, lol. Pick your poison, kwim? But there's a time for that and an age and 5/6 isn't it. 

Tablets are really handy in boring situations where you need to kill time and can't interact like long car trips. I had to drive my ds weekly for therapy and the trips were 2-2 ½ hours each way. I'd load educational videos onto the kindle using our amazon prime account. 

When he was much younger, they had cute apps like matching socks, sorting, interactive picture books in a variety of languages, etc. 

You'll find what you're good with and what suits your situation.

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Just now, Clarita said:

Kindle Fire sale

It looks like the current models are 2020. You might see when updates will come out. If the Kindle Fire HD10 is newer, you might go bigger just to get the newer processor. That's what holds tablets back is the processor changes. If they're putting them on sale it probably means there's an update about to come out. Although I'm all for saving $$, on tablets newer will have more longevity. They're typically a 5 year item, so something 2 years old has less life where it will be supported for apps. It will start to bog down as the newer apps require faster processors and things will stop working. Definitely go with the newest model of whatever they're selling, at least that's my two cents.

It looks like right now the HD8" is $90 and the HD10 is $150. 

There's a little bit floating around saying an update is coming. https://liliputing.com/2022/02/a-new-amazon-fire-tablet-just-hits-the-fcc-could-be-a-2022-fire-7-tablet.html

The HD10 is what my ds is currently using and it's *amazing* with a very long battery life. Actually both the 8 and 10 have long battery lives when listening to audiobooks. Amazon might possibly run deals with their Christmas in July. You could see if it has happened in the past. That might get you a bit of a deal. 

I have no opinion on refurbs for Kindle Fire tablets. Sometimes you'll find them listed on amazon, so I guess you could try. I bought a used one once on ebay after my ds drowned his tablet and it was fine. Just read the listing carefully. I think the one I bought had a sob story of someone who bought it and hardly used it, so it was basically new. I don't know if the chip and shipping issue is why we're not seeing updates? They used to update yearly so it has been odd. That's why I'm thinking you might have to balance price and availability and just take what you can get that seems good.

Obviously put a good case on it. You don't need their child version (at least I don't buy them that way) but you do want a good case.  Right now I'm using a Dteck https://www.amazon.com/Dteck-Case-Tablet-Release-Generation/dp/B097XQ8GX1/ref=sr_1_2?crid=2LNIO5CNQBTD4&keywords=dteck%2Bcase%2Bfire%2Bhd%2B10%2Bconvertible%2Bshockproof&qid=1652506671&sprefix=dteck%2Bcase%2Bfire%2Bhd10%2Bconvertible%2Bshockproof%2Caps%2C79&sr=8-2&th=1 

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Kindle Fires can be set up to have Google Play Store.     My kids still have their kid's versions we bought them in 2017 and still use them for quite a few things without any problems.   My dd also has an ipad which she likes better for her high-end drawing program, but ds uses a free drawing app on his Fire.

I also use Fire 7's for my classes and my 4H clubs.  I do Sphero robots, Scratch Jr, and a Green Screen app in my classes and they all have worked well with those programs for about 5 years.   I have about 12 tablets at my science center that I use.  Ipads were too expensive to hand to a bunch of kids who were walking around excited to be using robots.  I was worried about them breaking and having to replace them $$$.  The Fires are MUCH cheaper, but I also got some decent cases and so far we haven't broken any.  

I use these instructions to put Google on the kindles because the reason we did it at first was for Pokemon Go.  But once you have the play store, you don't need to actually get Pokemon Go.  https://pokemongokindlefire.com/

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11 hours ago, PeterPan said:

I'd rather my ds plays Civ than Zelda, lol. Pick your poison, kwim? But there's a time for that and an age and 5/6 isn't it. 

Don't get me wrong Civ is perfectly fine. Who am I to judge when I played Zelda during naptime at the beginning of the pandemic.

18 hours ago, Ting Tang said:

I'm thinking a lot of parents do it better than us, but I am definitely one with regrets.  

I don't think a lot of parents do it better than you. I've heard plenty of parents with older kids struggle with screen-time and older kids. 

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Posted (edited)

We've been very happy with our kindles! They are much less expensive than an Ipad and honestly less to replace when (not if) the kids do something dumb and break it. We do have an ipad for family use because there are a few neat features but for less than $50 a kindle works really well for most things. We don't really use the ipad more than the kindle and I would be fine without the ipad altogether.

ETA: a math app we like when they get a bit older is xtra math its just for the facts. Moose academy and anything by thup games are great fun and educational for that age!

Edited by seemesew
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I wouldn’t get them each their own tablet. My youngest is 4 and although he does use my iPad to play at times it’s still very much mommy’s. If audiobooks is a major draw I’d get one iPad and a Bluetooth speaker. You can have the speaker in the room without access to an iPad….as kids are often kids and find other things to do on it while listening. 

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We got them for the kids when they were a bit older. We bought cheap ones and the screens died a couple of years later. Dd eventually saved up for her own and also bought her brother one so he could play with her. I did have an iPad when the kids were young and that was bad enough.

I would not voluntarily introduce them to my kids again. As mentioned, it turns into everlasting whining about screen use and time.

My kids get more benefit now they’re older - using the Libby app, staying connected with friends, schoolwork. It hasn’t really given them tech skills that are useful for schoolwork - those would have been better taught explicitly with a computer. 

At a certain point, the kids will ask because all the friends have them. That’s when I’d do it, but having firm screen limits from the start.

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I would not do it. I have had an iPad for the kids in the past, to occupy them after I had my last baby, with only educational apps allowed. They quickly became addicted to it and began asking for it as soon as they were awake, instead of doing their morning routine. They asked for it throughout the day instead of reading or playing a game together which ended up being really annoying.  I also didn't want them using it before bed since they wouldn't sleep as well, so I had to constantly be on guard.  I ended up selling it as in the end it didn't fulfill the goals I had for them. Hope that helps!

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