We had no idea. Seriously. Three months ago, when we bought our iPad on Day Two of release, we had no idea that what it would become the most-used entertainment and education tool for our 2-year-old son, Dylan. A very precocious little man already, he clamped onto that thing like no other toy or book in his collection, which has led us to a reward system for whenever he is a good boy. That reward is the iPad. And he is a good boy just about every day, because he knows that for an hour before he goes to bed (and for a few minutes during the day) he gets to play with the iPad.
Here is a snapshot of how an average day in his life goes. (Written in first person â€” please play along.)
8:00 am – I wake up and wonder, “What shall I do today?” Well, let’s start with asking dad for a cup of milk and some oatmeal with bananas. I like them.
8:05 – Wow, this oatmeal tastes great. Cinnamon = awesome. I wonder what I can do to earn iPad time today. Hmmm.
9:00 – Time for cartoons. Maybe if I ask my Mom, she’ll let me watch them on the iPad.
9:01 – Mom says no, and I am not happy about it. Then she reminds me that I have to be a good boy to play with it. Oh yeah.
10:00 – Cartoons are boring me. I think I’ll get the train set. I call my brother to help, but he’s reading a book. Silly Harrison. I mean, I’ve got a train here!
Parent’s note – Their names are Dylan and Harrison. Yes. They are rock stars.
11:00 – I’ve got a nice setup. Track goes from the living room to my bedroom, and then turns around. I rule. My brother helped with the last little section, so of course he’s taking all the credit. I let him drive because I’m a nice big brother, and it will help me get to the iPad.
11:15 – I totally just made that train move with my mind. I am becoming a Jedi.
12:15 – Daddy just said I can use the iPad! Yesss!
Parent’s note – The wifi is always turned off when Dylan uses the iPad. You know, just in case.
12:30 – So what to do first? Should I draw, read Toy Story or my dinosaur book, or watch Iron Man? Dinosaurs. Definitely. ABC Dinosaurs is awesome. [It's free and attaches each letter with the name of a dinosaur. It speaks the letter, then the name of the dinosaur.] I push the button and slide the little arrow across the screen. Wow look at all these little pictures. This one is Daddy’s, this one is Mommy’s, and… here’s mine! Okay, so dinosaurs… this one teaches me the alphabet… A, B, C…
12:35 – Think I want a drawing app now. I have two choices loaded up â€” either Toy Story or iDraw. Toy Story sounds good. Hmmm… I think I’ll make Buzz purple this time. Yup, that looks good. Now I’m going to make a couple happy faces in iDraw. Yeah. Wait a sec. That looks like Yoda! I really am becoming a Jedi.
12:40 – I think I need to watch some Iron Man with the last few minutes of this session. He’s a man that can fly and shoot things from his hands! That’s awesome.
Parent’s note – Dylan has done all of this on his own. He is fully capable of turning it on, opening and closing apps, navigating the menus in each app, and so forth. This includes the iPod/Video apps which are not exactly the simplest apps on the device. He knows exactly where Superman and Iron Man are in the videos, and plays, pauses, and adjusts the volume all on his own. Again, he is a rock star.
1:00 – I’m a little sad right now because my afternoon time with the iPad is over. But it’s cool because it’s going to be there later. Nap time!
1:15 – Daddy put on Clone Wars for me! I always like this because it allows me time to think about the constant struggle between good and evil, as well as the philosophical differences… Yes, I am deep. I ponder things… And… uh… zzzzzzz.
3:00 – That was a good nap. Time for some juice. Then swimming! It’s only 115 outside (I live in Arizona), so it’s a little cooler.
Parent’s note – If you have children, they need to be around water. It is the best activity because they don’t even know they’re exercising. I am lucky because my apartment complex has two pools. If yours doesn’t, find one. You will not be disappointed.
4:00 – Out of the pool.Â Dude, I am exhausted. A banana and granola should do the trick. Maybe I’ll read a little too. Or draw. If I’m good, more tablet time!
6:15 – Mommy and Daddy made chicken with fried rice for dinner. Daddy was doing something with the iPad right before cooking, so I think he found it on there. I totally wish I were tall enough to reach the stove. I would be a master chef. I would make the best apple sauce ever.
7:00 – Starting to get dark outside. Bath time.
8:00 – A cup of milk and a cookie. Life is good. Speaking of good, Mom brings out the iPad! Life is really good. I think I’m going to read along to the Toy Story app. The whole thing. It’s a nice way to unwind and end the night.
Parent’s note – Dylan is good about knowing when he is about to fall asleep, and brings us the device right before passing out. It is quite literally the best learning tool available to him right now.
My son is a great little man who is enamored with our Apple tablet. The best part about it is that he is learning while having fun, which makes the entire thing worthwhile for everyone. And instead of having to buy multiple attachments with different levels of learning, like some “systems” (which are not bad at all, but expensive), all he needs as his skill level improves is another app. His time with the iPad is some of the best parts of his day, and therefore mine as well.