Our oldest, age 6, longs for his own tablet. Currently the household contains two tablets and a laptop. A year ago he received the LeapPad for Christmas. With the exception of having detachable games, it is a great unit. He has mastered his Math and Spelling thanks to the device. Through the pad he has also created some comical videos. It meets his current needs, at least we think so.
Our tablets contain a range of educational, strategic, and just plain fun games. The older two love exploring and playing on them. So much so that M asked for a tablet for Christmas. I am a research/review junky. Having found an inexpensive unit that I felt would “grow” with him, I brought it home. Then the uneasiness settled in. Did a 6-year-old really need his own tablet? Is he responsible enough for such a device? And really, couldn’t he just continue to share ours? Yes, I returned the device. Maybe I am old fashion, maybe I am missing the point, but quite simply he, at this age, does not need his own tablet. He also asked for a quad and that is not going to happen either. Instead he will be quite happy with his other “wish list” item, the Lego Police Station. He is a builder, designer, architect extraordinaire. This past summer he spent an entire week recreating the Titanic! Right down to the Captain’s quarters and iceberg damage. To me, the building blocks will spark a desire for hands on learning, and a longer appreciation for creativity.
This is the part of Christmas that misses the mark. Gift giving. We do not want our kids to believe that Christmas is about getting the ultimate “prize”. Maybe M’s list was full of wishful thinking, but as a parent we had to draw the line. Also, sometimes I feel Christmas has become the time to give gifts just for the sake of giving a gift. Not for the meaning behind the item or the thought that went into the item. Is sending a fruit basket really a sign that you appreciate them? Surely you thought about the person or at least was able to cross a name off a list. In many cases, I would prefer just the time together. Maybe a coffee date to catch up, a family dinner and games night, perhaps a plate of cookies to stop by and hang out for a bit, those are the gifts that I love. Our children need to know that this time is not about getting another little this or that, but about the time spent with the family, friend, or neighbor. Time, the ultimate Christmas list item.
Come Christmas Day, the hubs or I will spend the day helping M tackle the construction project. That time will be remembered and cherished more than M sitting on his buns exploring a tablet. I know the time will come when this will change, but for now, I want time.