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Should primary school children be given iPods and iPads?

Posted by: Brigitte Rozario, 1-Feb-2011


With all the new gadgets and devices available today, more and more units are finding their way into homes and some even end up in the hands of children.

An iPod or iPad can help organise our lives and help us connect as well as come in handy with its music player and many applications available. However, should these gadgets be given to primary school children?

Let’s hear from two mothers:

Chan Swee Ngoh

Chan Swee Ngoh, entreprenuer and stay-at-home mum of four children:

I don’t think it is wise to allow primary school children to own an iPod or iPad. Children nowadays are easily hooked onto computer games, and to give them an iPod is tricky as it will be more difficult to take it away from them later on.

My youngest son just entered Form 1 this year. He often says “Wait, wait” when I ask him to come for dinner or when it's bedtime. This is because he's playing games on the computer. I have shared this experience with my girlfriend and she says the same thing happens in her house. Both my girlfriend and her husband were so angry with their children that they broke the keyboard on one occasion. Children are easily addicted to these interactive gadgets.

With a portable gadget like an iPod or iPad, the tendency for children to be anti-social increases as their eyes and hands are glued to the gadget, focusing on the game all the time. I prefer to allow children to have more outdoor activities than just staying in the room playing with the iPod. They lack discipline and it may get out of control if they become too absorbed in the iPod or iPad.

What about peer pressure from their friends?

Parents will normally make a stand with regards to the best decision for their children's development. Children shouldn’t get things too easily; craving for the latest gadgets will just result in them taking things for granted.

As for my son, he usually won’t ask for these gadgets as he knows that we do not give in so easily. I personally don’t encourage parents to allow children below 12 to own an iPod or iPad … maybe not even for those in secondary school."

Christine Chang

Christine Chang, stay-at-home mother of four children:

We live in this fast-paced world where people are hooked on to new gadgets like the iPod, iPad, Wii, PS3 and many others.

Personally, I don’t encourage primary school children to own an iPod or iPad. However, I do allow my children to play games on the iPhone at certain times, usually after they have finished their homework and after their meals for a short period of about 30 minutes or so. Interestingly, instead of games only, they do explore the camera functions as well. I am amazed that at times they can get creative with the pictures they take using the Lomo application or Polaroid function.

My husband owns an iPhone which has similar functions as those on the iPod. Sometimes he allows the children to play games on his iPhone for a short while.

On the plus side, it is a eye opener to watch them explore and learn how to use the gadget. 

Children are smart and they are able to handle new gadgets easily. It is amazing that they handle these gadgets better than most of us parents. They know exactly which buttons to press, how to zoom in on the pictures and many others without us teaching them.

It is not necessarily a bad thing to allow children to explore new gadgets as we also play a part in preparing them to adapt to new technologies. However, as parents, we need to guide them wisely about balancing play and studies and allowing them the flexibility to explore. Balance in exploring both traditional and new toys is necessary in this era to create a healthy and creative environment for our children.

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