Getting technical

One of the girls’ friends got a Leap-Pad Explorer (essentially an iPad specifically designed for pre-schoolers) for her recent 4th birthday from a generous uncle. Said friend opened it up, played with it for a few minutes and discarded it…until R and G came to play. During their usual ‘We’re at someone else’s house so we have to play with ALL of their toys within five minutes of arriving’ thing, G discovered the Leap-Pad and we essentially lost her for the next hour or two.

G definitely takes after her father when it comes to gadgets. I wish I’d taken a picture of Dh and G together, she perched on his lap completing game after game, he with one arm around G whilst holding a beer in the other. It was a perfect moment of father-daughter harmony. She picked up the principle of the machine in seconds, although she found the sluggish response time of the screen more than a little frustrated. R and their friend realised that G was hogging this particular toy and sought to deprive her of it. A three-way stand-off ensued until R and C were called upon to assist with making apple and rhubarb crumble, leaving G to complete the penguin game in peace.

There’s a tussle between parents that give their child a hand-held gaming device for their 2nd birthday and those who think that computers are essentially evil and that all pre-school children should play with mud and sticks until they are absolutely forced to use a machine to complete homework.

I’m ambivalent about the girls having access to computers at this age. I don’t think a little bit of educational computer work does them any harm – the girls are very fond of the games on the Ben and Holly website – but I wouldn’t want to lose them to a screen for hours at a time, for precisely the same reasons that I have always rationed their TV watching. The girls are going to be using computers when they start school, so they may as well familiarise themselves with the concept. However, the world is too exciting and there is more to life than staring at a screen (says she tapping away on her laptop), plus they have years to spend in front of a computer when they go to school and work. In any case, Dh is a ‘gamer’ and I’m pretty fond of the odd game of The Sims and Just Dance, so I can’t be a hypocrite and deny the existence of games when the girls can see the evidence all around them.

R is definitely more of an active outdoorsy girl whereas G prefers being indoors with a colouring book, but they are both taken with gadgets. I downloaded a Peppa Pig app onto my iPhone over the weekend and G is already a master of the piñata game. I showed them my (sadly neglected) Nintendo DS Lite and I’m wondering if I’ll ever get to do my brain training exercises again as they played the mini games on Super Mario and patted my poor old Nintendog. Dh is already hatching plans to add a second DS to the collection and I think I’ll be donating mine to the girls…for small bouts of controlled gameplay with an educational bent of course. It won’t do them any harm.