When is the right time to give your child a mobile?

When is the right time to give your child a mobile? That’s a question that many parents and carers will probably have to wrestle with – and it’s an issue that is cropping up ever earlier.

When is the right time for giving your child a mobile? Young boy playing on a mobile phone

Last year, when Caitlin was 10 and in Year 5, she told me that 7 of her classmates had brand new iPhones – a quick look on the comparison sites shows the latest iPhone 8 is anywhere from £40 to £90 per month, which for a child of that age is outrageous.

If the kids haven’t got iPhones, they’ve got iPods for texting.  Sleepovers are being arranged via Snapchat, Facetiming is happening via iPads.

Our kids are more connected than ever before.  It makes the concept of a playdate rather last century, doesn’t it?

I asked a group of mums on Facebook whether they thought this was a good idea and whether they would be allowing their kids phones.

The answer was a resounding “NO” with the recognition that we are all fighting a losing battle and that resistance to the march of technology is a bit like still insisting the earth is flat.

All we can do, I think, is decide for ourselves when is the right time for our kids to have a mobile phone.

giving your child a mobile phone - apple iPhone

Things to think about before you give your child a mobile

If you are considering whether to give your child a mobile phone, these are the factors to weigh up:-

  1. Your lifestyle – that is our need to contact our kids
  2. Peer pressure – are our kids being excluded from friendship groups because they don’t have a phone?
  3. Potential risks from phone use in terms of health and personal safety
  4. Cost

Lifestyle

If you work full time (or even part-time) you’ll find yourself rushing to do the school run, rushing to drop off, pick up, co-ordinate kids’ clubs and hobby sessions, doctors, dentists – the list is endless.

No matter how hard you try you cannot be with them all the time or even reachable sometimes.

It gets even trickier if you have more than one child.

Caitlin is off to secondary school in September, whilst Ieuan will be in the last year of primary. Two schools in different locations.

This means I will have to decide which one to take to school and which one to trust enough to make their own way.

The idea of doing this without being able to reach both of them causes me not a little anxiety so both of them now have a mobile – albeit an old contract phone with a pay-as-you-go SIM.

Of course, when my generation (I was born in 1964) was growing up nobody batted an eye and you just got on with it.  I used to walk along a scrubby track known as the Ash Path from Dinas Powys to my school in Penarth.  At the top of the path, you cross open fields before navigating the main road and walking along the side of the school to the main gate.

I would walk this in the dark, the rain, the cold and, frequently alone from age 11 onwards.

I had no choice because dad worked and mum does not drive.

In those days (the 1970’s), there did not seem to be the general panic about meeting undesirables on the way.

Today, such is our knowledge (and exposure to media coverage of paedophiles and other criminals) that we won’t even let our kids out to play in the street.

It is no surprise then, that the first thing parents do when their kids have to roam farther afield is to get them a mobile phone for their own peace of mind.

And, when our kids see their parents glued to pcs, laptops, iPads and phones, even if it is because we are working, it is very difficult to adopt the “do as I say, not as I do” approach.  As far as that argument goes, we really haven’t a leg to stand on trying to justify a ‘no’ to our kids.

Peer Pressure

When your son or daughter finds that social events are being organised via WhatsApp and they are excluded because they don’t have a phone, the temptation to rush out and get them a mobile is huge.

There’s a big argument between your head – which says that kids should not need phones in primary school to organise their social lives – and your heart.

It’s natural to want your child to fit in and be included.  Where there are a few kids with phones you can see that cliques will form and to be frank, this makes me a little uncomfortable.

Anyone who has experienced bullying will shudder at the idea of not being one of the crowd.  Today, of course, cyber bullying is rife – a new dimension to an age-old problem brought about by our addiction to mobile technology.

Health and Safety

You could say that the jury is still out on the effects of mobile technology on our health, and particularly on our children’s developing brains.  I believe we really won’t know the answer to this for many years to come.

There are already health-related conditions being identified not related to the phone but to the way we use them – text neck or thumb for example!

Perhaps the biggest threat is to our children’s mental health through the use of social media platforms such as Instagram where it seems it is impossible to completely filter out inappropriate material or those who are determined to target youngsters.

I also think that letting a child wander around with the latest, expensive handset is asking for trouble and may even make them a target for bullies or for those who want the phone for themselves.

On the other hand, for parents and children to be able to reach each other when there’s an emergency is a great thing.

I’ve even heard of parents giving children a code word to get them out of social situations that, whilst not dangerous, are upsetting them or making them feel uneasy. The child simply calls and uses the special, innocuous word or phrase and the parent takes this as a signal to go and pick them ups.

Particularly useful for teenagers where they may be pressurised to do something they don’t want to do – whether, sex, alcohol or drug-related.

Cost

If there is something that stops parents rushing out to get a phone it’s likely to be cost.  We can buy a basic handset and a pay-as-you-go SIM but, going back to peer pressure, when all the other kids have iPhones or other state-of-the-art handsets, your child is not going to be happy with a hand-me-down that doesn’t have all the bells and whistles.

I suspect lots of parents pass down their existing handset to their kids when they upgrade though, so this may not be a huge issue unless there are no phones in the family already.

It does mean that you need to find the best deal in terms of calls, texts and data because, as we know, our kids’ data usage is quite likely to outstrip ours several times!

I had to explain to Caitlin just recently that a text message charge will be incurred for every emoticon she adds into her texts and given that her messages are usually peppered with hearts, rainbows and unicorns, her credit can be rapidly eaten away without her necessarily saying anything at all!

Pay-as-you-go is the simplest way to manage the extra cost of running your child’s phone as long as you remember to keep it topped up.  You could also use it as an incentive for your child to do their chores or keep their room tidy – no chores done, no top up!  Yes, I’m an optimist.

Or you can add another phone to your existing mobile phone contract which, whilst allowing you to monitor their data usage, might mean they’ve already run up a bill you weren’t prepared for!

Make sure you do your research and compare deals from the mobile providers.

I have to be honest and say that although Caitlin and Ieuan both have mobile phones, I am not particularly happy about it.  In an ideal world, I would have waited until both of them were in secondary school.

But, with Mat working abroad or from his London office most of the week, I am the one who usually does the school run.  It is not practical, even if you do work from home, to be tied to the home all day – particularly if you are trying to develop a blog. Yes, stay at home mums do have to go out at some point!

There will be times in the future when I will have to travel and I will need to be able to contact my kids and vice versa.

Giving children mobile phones is not ideal but mobile technology is a factor of everyday life and one we can’t escape from. The secondary school my two will attend gives every pupil an iPad on which they are expected to do their homework. My husband’s job is in computer networking.

It feels like I am fighting a losing battle and I sometimes feel quite nostalgic for the old-fashioned type of childhood I had. In those days, it was all about playing outdoors in the sun, not gaming in a darkened living room.

If you do get your children mobile phones it’s important to sit down with them and set some ground rules. You’ll also need to make sure they know how to use the phone – although my kids are already teaching me how to use mine so I suspect that’s unlikely to be a problem!

Giving your child a mobile phone is a knotty issue which needs a lot of research and communication between all family members to come up with a system of mobile usage that works for everyone.

And it’s a conversation we’ll all need to have sooner or later.

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Should you buy your child a smartphone for Christmas?

Tech has been topping the Christmas lists of tweens and teens for a few years now – with smartphones becoming the hot favourite for many children.  But when is the right time to introduce your kids to mobile technology?  Surely Christmas should be all about board games and novelty pyjamas? But I’ll bet a smartphone for kids is top of loads of Christmas lists.  Enter the Monqi Kids Smartphone.

Monqi Kids Smartphone - Little Girl playing with a smartphone

Getting their first smartphone is now a major milestone in a child’s life, something that they negotiate, nag and pester their parents for, for many months and even years before they finally cave in!  A survey last year found that the average age for a UK child to get a smartphone is 10 – however, they are browsing the internet as young as five!

There’s no denying that technology is and will continue to be a part of our children’s lives and because of this parenting needs to adapt too – teaching our children to be safe online, introducing them to technology and encouraging healthy mobile habits is now a fundamental part of modern parenting – just like crossing the road or tying their shoelaces!

Parents are understandably concerned when it comes to handing over a smartphone, what about the costs? Will they be safe? What games are appropriate? How do I restrict apps and usage?

There’s a new kids’ smartphone on the market that promises to address these concerns for anxious parents.  Monqi looks just like a proper smartphone, with a sleek design and all of the latest features.  However, it is controlled via an app (available on IOS or Android) on the parent’s phone.  Because the parental controls are baked into the phone itself, they can’t be switched off or bypassed by even the most tech-savvy child – unlike other phones on the market…

Monqi Kids Smartphone - little girl playing with a mobile

The app allows you to parent your child through tech, setting schedules for screen time – no phone during school, mealtimes and an hour before bed for example!  You also approve all app downloads and contacts and can even remotely lock the phone if you need to.

The Monqi Kids Smartphone has been awarded ‘Mumsnet Rated’, which means the product has undergone testing by a panel of real parents and children who in turn have then recommended to other mums.

Your kids will love the fact that they’ve got a decent camera and access to the Jungle Store – a curated app store that only contains age-appropriate apps with no in-app purchases or ads. There are 150 free apps to choose from – with all the latest educational games and entertainment, including YouTube Kids.

Rather than being nagged until you give in, why not embrace this new rite of passage this Christmas? With technology like Monqi, you can make that smartphone purchase a positive thing for you and your child.

The Monqi Kids Smartphone is available exclusively at Carphone Warehouse, SIM-free £149.99.

Keep Track Of Your Kids With The dokiWatch 3G Enabled Smartwatch For Kids

A couple of years ago we lost Caitlin.  A family squabble over lunch in Cardiff Bay led to an act of defiance and our feisty little daughter marching out into the thronging crowds whilst we scrabbled after her.

Caitlin looking at the dokiWatch on Barry Island Beach

For a few, heart-stopping minutes, we couldn’t see her but luckily she hadn’t wandered too far.  I can still remember the sickening lurch in my stomach as I realised she was completely out of sight and anything could happen to her.

Caitlin playing on Barry Island Beach wearing the dokiWatch

Which is why I was happy to road-test the dokiWatch, the world’s most advanced smartwatch for kids aged 6 to 12 which is both a wearable phone and a tracking device. If I had had one of these finding Caitlin would have been quicker and far less stressful.

Whilst the jury is still out on the safety of kids using mobile phones and the inevitability of our children having them at some point continues to be a major point of parental discussion, the dokiWatch offers a kind of halfway platform which allows both child and parent the comfort that comes with being able to stay in touch.

The dokiWatch is the first ever 3G enabled smartwatch for children and it has video calling, voice calling and messaging.  Not only does it have GPS tracking but there’s an electronic ‘dokiPet’ which acts as a fitness tracker and awards achievement badges.

Caitlin & Ieuan consulting the dokiWatch at Buckfast Abbey, Devon

So what exactly does it do?

Connectivity

To use the dokiWatch you need a Nano SIM with a voice and data service from your mobile provider. It is incredibly easy to set up – just insert the sim, turn the watch on and scan the QR code with the doki app.

Functions

Voice Calling – parents and kids can call each other and you can also have a preset friends list when contacts can be called at the touch of a button (for example grandparents).

Voice Messaging – parents and kids can send each other voice messages up to 30 seconds long.

Text Messaging & Emojis – great for sending reminders to your kids.

Emergency SOS Mode – a red SOS button on the side of the watch will send an emergency notification to designated contacts including 60 seconds of your child’s voice and any background noise.

Smart Locator – you can track the position of your child on the doki app which uses GPS, GSM and WiFi to pinpoint their location.

Alert Area – you can configure the watch to alert you when your child leaves a designated area.

Classroom Mode – you can turn the watch off so that it doesn’t interrupt lesson.

What we liked

Caitlin and Ieuan took turns wearing it and loved the messaging function and being able to call me every five minutes with an update on their location.  In turn, I could see their location on the doki app.

The watch is bright, colourful and comfortable to wear. Ours was ‘Sonic Blue’ but there’s also Dazzle Pink, Shark Grey and Mango Yellow. I worried initially about the watch falling off when the kids ran about but it fits quite securely without being uncomfortable or irritating to the skin.

Ieuan showing off the dokiWatch

It gives you the confidence of knowing where your kids are within a set radius and encourages a little more independence in your kids.

Caitlin also liked that the watch is a bit of a head turner and attracted quite a few admiring glances!

What we didn’t like

Nothing, in all honesty.  For the less than tech-savvy, a basic ‘quick start’ guide would be a handy addition to the pack and our only other niggle was that the charging cable is magnetic and will fall off the watch if you knock it whilst it is charging.  I would have preferred a charging cable that could be actually inserted into the watch.

We gave our dokiWatch a thorough road test on our holiday in Devon and the only problem we had was that it was tricky to get the video messaging to work due to the poor signal in some parts of the countryside – a problem which afflicts all mobile devices.

Ieuan at Buckfast Abbey, Devon, wearing the dokiWatch

We had absolutely no problem with voice calling or messaging.

The dokiWatch is available from www.doki.com at $199.00.

I’ll be keeping our dokiWatch charged and certainly ready for use on holiday and trips to town.  We used a free pay-as-you-go SIM from GiffGaff which offers a data/call bundle for £12.

Not all schools, of course, will permit the wearing of gadgets but given the number of parents I see speeding to pick up their kids on the school run, this particular one would be a great help when you’re stuck in traffic (again!) or, like me, have got distracted leaving the house and can’t find your keys! One quick call and you can let your child know where you are and tell them what you need them to do.

The only function the dokiWatch lacks is getting your kids to do what you ask.

In which case, I fear we’re a few years off that yet.

*a PR sample was received for the purpose of this post which contains an affiliate link.  As of 20/08/2018 I can find no UK stockists, however, you will find similar models on Amazon.co.uk.

[amazon_link asins=’B07F6WKFG8,B00N9OATPK,B01FI1VILA,B01LZEHXSW,B07799GMJ6,B01CJFHW0Y,B077Z927YD’ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’mothedistr-21′ marketplace=’UK’ link_id=’739ce476-b6c3-11e8-9ff7-df2cb09f5cfb’]




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Review: Amazon Fire TV Stick With Alexa Remote

You wouldn’t expect Amazon to offer a product that wasn’t a) innovative, b) well made and c) reasonably priced (eventually –  the launch price of the latest Kindle Fire was a bit of a shock). And so it is with the very nifty Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote.

Amazon Fire TV Stick With Alexa Voice Remote

We opted for the Alexa Voice Remote version as we have recently purchased an Amazon Echo Dot and have been impressed with it.  Plus, not only have the kids had fun with it, it’s company for me when they’re at school and far less trouble than a pet.

Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote Box Cover

I should explain here that you don’t need an Amazon Echo or Dot for this as the Fire TV Stick already has Alexa installed.

What does it do?

The Fire TV Stick is a plug in and go way to access on-demand TV and stream your favourite subscription TV shows and movies.

This is the second generation of the Fire TV Stick and with it you can access over 7000 apps, games and Alexa skills.

It has 8 GB of storage and 1 GB of memory for apps and games, a quad-core processor, plus 802.11ac Wi-Fi for fast streaming and smooth performance.

You can give Alexa commands such as “Launch Netflix” or “Skip ahead 5 minutes” and of course other commands such as “search for local restaurants” and “remind me why I had children again“. Actually, Alexa doesn’t seem to be able to answer that one. She will, however, tell you a joke if you ask.

You can even pick up where you left off and bring hit shows and movies with you when you travel. All you do is plug your Fire TV Stick into a TV’s HDMI port, connect to Wi-Fi and continue watching.

And you can quickly play your current favourites or find something new to watch from the home screen.

Connection

The Amazon Fire TV Stick connects via a USB cable to the HDMI port on your TV and the box contains a handy HDMI extender to improve Wi-Fi and remote performance.

Power up your Alexa Voice Remote by simply inserting the batteries and then complete the on-screen set up by selecting your Wi-Fi network from the networks displayed on the screen. You’ll need your network password to hand.

Contents of the Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote box

There’s a little voice button at the top of the Fire TV stick which allows you to ask Alexa to find your favourite TV show or movies.

And that’s it. Simple, speedy and easy to understand.

Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote Home Screen

It’s better with Amazon Prime

We have been members of Amazon Prime for several years now and not only do you get the unlimited one-day delivery, but you can watch thousands of movies and TV shows with Prime Video, listen ad-free to hundreds of hand-built playlists and access two million songs with Prime Music. You can also safely store an unlimited amount of photos. (Current fee is £79/year).

Trailer poster for Star Wars Rogue One

The Amazon Fire TV Stick has obviously been designed to complement this service and we found that whilst on-demand TV is free and services such as Netflix would obviously be covered by a separate subscription, lots of the Amazon programmes are free to Prime members but otherwise incur a charge (albeit generally a very reasonable one).

What if you already have a Freeview Digital Recorder?

Now if you have a Freeview Digital Recorder (we have a Humax) you might think you won’t need one of these and, if all you watch is on-demand TV to catch up with your favourite shows with the occasional Netflix movie, then it may be a bit of a duplication.

Even so,  I found accessing programmes via the Fire TV Stick far quicker and easier than using the Humax remote.

DC Legends of Tomorrow Trailer Poster

Take your favourite shows and movies with you

It is surely the portability of the Amazon Fire TV Stick that is one of its greatest strengths and for parents the ability to take their little ones’ favourite shows with them will be a great help on holidays (you know on those rainy staycation days!) always assuming there is a compatible HDMI TV.

However annoying Spongebob Squarepants may be, he beats the sound of children bickering any day.

Or it’s great if you work away on business or to make your uni digs feel a little more like home with the familiar films you love.

I was really impressed with the Amazon Fire TV Stick. It’s simple enough for even the most technophobic to use. The instructions were clear and the buttons big enough for less agile fingers to cope with and there really is a vast choice of entertainment to choose from.

And for £39.99 it’s a bit of a bargain.

Lost Childhood: Wish You Could Give Your Child The Upbringing YOU Had?

As a parent, I often find myself trotting out those well worn phrases such as “we never had those in my day” or “money doesn’t grow on trees” or “we had to make our own fun”.

This whilst my two are impersonating couch potatoes with their tablets resisting every attempt I make to get them into the garden on their bikes.

Photo courtesy of Rodolfo Mari

As we get older, our positive childhood memories take on a golden haze and we remember simpler, happier times involving mud, fresh air and hours spent playing in woods, quarries or by rivers – places which, these days, would give most parents the vapours.

Yet, despite the fact that many children have toys and gadgets we could only dream of, we read that the pressures on our youngsters are, in fact, mounting.

Our children are being subjected to increased stress at school with longer hours and less time with their parents who are frazzled from juggling a work and home life.

A recent survey by My Voucher Codes asked parents whether they thought their children’s upbringing is better or worse than their own.

And the results were very interesting.

A large proportion of parents (46%) said they wished their children’s upbringing was more like their own. Some wished they had been stricter (28%).

57% of parents felt children are growing up too quickly, possibly because of technology such as smartphones and social media.

The sexualisation of children is another large concern with kids thinking about relationships and other activities much earlier than their parents ever did.

42% of parents thought that children have much higher expectations which leads to them putting more and more pressure on themselves.

32% of parents worried about their kids reliance on mobile technology although 59% felt that this offered them more opportunities.

Today stay at home parents, like myself, are in the minority and 31% of parents said they regretted not being able to be a stay at home parent.

On the other hand 54% felt that the extra income from two salaries allowed the kids to have more luxuries than they did and 48% thought their kids would find life much harder without the extra money.

Blaming technology is a little too easy though, isn’t it?  And we have to be realistic.  Developments in the fields of science and technology are surely only going to get faster and most sophisticated.

Our challenge is to adapt our parenting to ensure that our children grow up knowing how to balance technology with good, old-fashioned childhood fun.

On the one hand we may moan that Social Media is turning our youngsters into screen obsessed, uncommunicative zombies but on the other, how many of us are guilty of letting our kids use social media under the age of 13 (this is Facebook’s requirement)?

It is too easy to say “oh, but all their friends are on it”.

We don’t have to give in and buy our youngsters mobile phones either.

As parents we DO have a choice.  We hold the purse strings and we can say no.

Easier said than done, I know, but who said parenting was easy?

Whilst we are reliving our own childhoods in romantic flashback, we might consider how it was for our parents.

My parents were born in 1939,  In fact my dad was born on 4th September, the day after World War II broke out.  We like to remind him of that quite often.

Despite this, they remember their childhoods with equal amounts of affection and have happy memories of simpler,and much less affluent times, even whilst dashing to the air-raid shelter during night-time bombing raids on Plymouth.

Rather than beating ourselves up and wishing our kids could have the kind of childhood we did, we just need to balance our use of technology with quality time with our children.

And make sure that technology becomes our servant rather than letting our kids become its slave.

Does Technology Bring Families Together?

Does technology bring families together?  Or could it actually be pushing us apart?  Having a husband who works in the telecommunications industry means that our house possibly has more laptops, phones and things with screens than the average home.  It also means that our kids have been able to become IT savvy in a way those of us born in the ’60s could only dream of.

I remember starting work for a shelving & racking company in the late 1980s and finding a brand new word processor sat on a desk with a dust cover on it because nobody knew how to use it.  I also remember the thrill of moving from a black and white television to a colour one.  Yes, I am that, er, mature.

Technology has become so ingrained in our daily lives that we barely look up from our mobiles to see what’s going on.

Last weekend, I attended a blogging event at a local hotel.  This was basically three tables of women all looking at their phones and photographing each other.  We are all now apparently obsessed with recording every detail of our lives to make it look #instacool.

And it’s the same for kids.  Every restaurant, waiting room, in fact anywhere where people congregate will contain parents looking at their phones and children being kept mute by an iPad or Nintendo DS.

On the other hand, there is no denying that social media is a great uniter of people.  How many of us now talk to friends and relatives we have lost touch with over the years?  We can keep in touch via SKYPE.  There is actually, today, no excuse NOT to keep in touch.  And, conversely, no hiding place if you embrace as many social media platforms as I do.

The dark side of this is the danger it puts our children in. The temptation for parents to avoid the minimum age for Facebook is strong (it’s 13 by the way) – and I know parents who start accounts in, say the pet’s name so that the child can have a social media presence.

Peer pressure is usually cited as the reason the child has to have a presence.  Cyberbullying is a growing problem as is sexting with children as young as 11 and 12 sending indecent pictures of themselves, not realising that these snaps will never vanish from the internet.

Then there’s the pressure from children to have a mobile phone.  The jury is still out on whether or not mobiles can cause brain cancer but the advice is not to let children have mobiles near their still-developing brains. Because we play on our phones we think of them are toys.  But toys they most certainly are not.

Parents need a new set of skills to teach children how to deal with these issues – not always so easy when you are not particularly good at understanding social media yourself.

We are being forced to address issues such as sex education and pornography much earlier than in previous decades.  In many ways, our children’s innocence is being eroded by the advancement of technology and it is becoming harder to protect them.

In the evening, how many families now sit around a dining table to eat together and talk about their day?

And how many are sat on sofas in front of the TV?  When the kids are in bed, having spent the last hour of the day on their iPads or gaming in their bedrooms, how many couples sit and chat and how many have a PC on their lap and are in their own social media worlds?  I have to confess that the Husband and I are guilty of this.

We know that excessive screen use before bed interferes with our ability to go to sleep and that’s without the stress of exposure to bad news on TV or the pressures of work and school.

There’s no denying that technology has revolutionised almost every aspect of our daily lives.  Our kitchens are groaning with gadgets to make food production quicker.  We have fridge/freezers you could hide an ox in.  Our cars are now basically mobile computers which move fast.  We read books on a screen.  Films and TV are always available on our phones.

But what are we doing with the time we’ve saved?

Mostly spending more time on the internet, creating our own little worlds where interaction seems real, but is not.  Where we kid ourselves we have lots of friends and followers, many of whom we will never meet and who certainly would not recognise us in the street.

And we are teaching our kids that this is an effective use of their spare time, instead of playing with them, talking to them, encouraging them to play outside.  We are failing to teach them the skill of making ‘real’ friends, making small talk and taking an interest in what is really going on in their lives.

I have a love/hate relationship with technology.  It’s brought me great friends and great experiences. But I am well aware that this has come at a cost, that cost being less time spent with my kids creating memories in the real, rather than the virtual, world.

I think we need to learn how to control the technology in our lives before it starts to control us.  And, given Professor Stephen Hawking‘s fear, voiced just yesterday, that we need to get to grips with Artificial Intelligence before it out-thinks humans, now may be a very good time indeed to switch off and have a reboot – in the good old-fashioned sit-down-with-the-kids-and-chat type of way.

Review: iPad with Retina Display – Still the Apple of Our Eye

Since the launch of the original iPad in 2010, the way we use and relate to technology has changed dramatically. Steve Jobs said, in 1983, “What we (Apple) want to do is we want to put an incredibly great computer in a book that you can carry around with you and learn how to use in 20 minutes…” and that is exactly what the iPad is.

iPad with retina display
Apple iPad with Retina Display

Caitlin and Ieuan have been playing with my iPad since they were about two years old (with supervision, I might add!). I remember being gobsmacked at how, when we sat down with them, they both had grasped literally within minutes how a touch screen worked.

There are a wealth of brilliant educational apps too, many free as well as paid for – pictorial versions of the alphabet, numbers, songs, stories and simple games. – and of course all happily portable to restaurants, doctors’ surgeries and dental waiting rooms! Used properly, I think tablets are a great way to spend time teaching and having fun with your children. They’ll never completely replace the importance of reading to my children but apps like, for example “The Going To Bed Book” by Sandra Boyton make a nice change.

Of course there are also a host of fun apps like Talking Tom (and his many friends) and junior versions of adult favourites like Candy Crush.  Ieuan loves watching Toy Story videos on constant repeat.  (We are hoping the Buzz phase passes soon!).

We currently have an original iPad but we felt it was time to upgrade to take advantage of the fantastic apps which are appearing on an almost daily basis. We did consider Android tablets such as the Samsung Galaxy or the Microsoft Surface 8 tablet (which has Microsoft Windows 8 as its operating system), but for me the iPad remains the benchmark.

iPad with Retina Display
Even from this photo, the stunning clarity of the iPad’s Retina Display is clear

We opted for the Apple iPad with retina display. We chose the 32GB Wi-Fi model which retails around the £480 mark. It is incredibly lightweight, has a 9.7″ screen and the clarity of the display is stunning. It comes with a host of new features such as the 5MP iSight camera with 1080p HD video recording and the FaceTime HD camera, which we prefer to using SKYPE when The Husband is away on business.

It comes with iOS 6. (the operating system at the heart of the iPhone, iPad and iPod). iOS7 is now available and our iPad can be easily upgraded by downloading the software from Apple when we’re ready.

The new iPad gives us access to over 300,000 apps so that should keep the kids quiet, especially since battery life is up to 10 hours, and of course The Husband can watch his favourite rugby via the TV apps such as iPlayer and I can start the Christmas shopping on the quiet, without little eyes watching.  

Ieuan playing with iPad
A moment’s peace and quiet from Ieuan!

Yes, the iPad is still the Apple of our eye.

*A collaborative post.