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Preschool Teacher Tells Parents To Stop Giving Their Kids IPads In Restaurants — 'You're Their Teacher, That's Your Job'

Photo: BalanceFormCreative / Shutterstock
kid sitting down using iPad

When it comes to taking care of kids, the easiest route is often taken. In many situations, this means putting a child in front of a screen to avoid a tantrum.

However, one preschool teacher suggested this might not be the best option.

A preschool teacher told parents that they need to stop automatically giving their children iPads.

Alex Nearing, a teacher for three-to-six-year-olds in Montessori, took to TikTok to share her thoughts on parents giving their children iPads.

“I don’t know which parents need to hear this, but your young child does not require an iPad everywhere you go,” she said.

   

   

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Despite the controversy her statement could cause, Nearing doubled down on her point. “You do not need to hand it to them the minute you sit down at a restaurant,” she stated. “You do not need to hand it to them the minute they enter the car. You do not need to hand it to them the minute they enter the door from returning home from school.”

Nearing clarified that her advice didn't apply to all children. She said, “Now, a quick disclaimer. I am not talking about children on the autism spectrum, and I’m not talking about nonverbal children. I am talking about just your average, run-of-the-mill, typical preschool-age child.”

Nearing also stressed that not all uses of iPads are bad. “I get it,” she said. “These iPads have fantastic, wonderful, highly intelligently designed academic games that they can play while they’re in these settings. So, you can shove an iPad in their face and it’s like this letter-number game where it’s fun and it’s entertaining and it’s colorful and it’s beautiful.”

Teacher Tells Parents To Stop Giving Their Kids iPads In RestaurantsPhoto: Hero Images / Canva Pro

However, Nearing argued that there are better options for children.

“There’s so many other tools and resources and things that you can do with your child, including just having a conversation with them that you can use at a restaurant setting or really anywhere else, that does not require sitting down without a word being said, shoving a tablet immediately in their face,” she explained.

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According to Nearing, immediately giving your child an iPad can disrupt their development and change the way they see the world. She stated, “You give them no time to be bored, no time to take in their surroundings, and no time to actually learn how to act in these settings.” 

“I get it,” she said understandingly. “You want to avoid the meltdown.” But, Nearing explained that doing this takes away a valuable chance to teach children.

“If you’re constantly shoving an iPad in their face before they even have a chance to receive a set of information in a way that upsets them to the point of having a meltdown, you’re never going to be able to work through those problems with them at a young age, because you’re never even allowing them to occur,” she said.

Is it safe for parents to give their children iPads to use?

The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry recommends that parents hold off on any form of screen time other than video calls with relatives until two and even then it should be restricted to supervised and educational in nature. 

Michael Rich, the director of the Center on Media and Child Health at Children’s Hospital in Boston, told the Washington Post, “You can see how a kid who already has difficulty paying attention is put in front of the television to chill him out,” he said. “It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

According to Nearing, it all comes back to parents’ roles in their children’s lives. “You as their parent are their first teacher,” she advised. “That is your job. As a parent, you will always and forever be the first and primary educator of your child, and that is something no iPad can ever take away.”

While the iPad clearly shouldn't be a default tool in parenting, moms and dads should never be shamed when needing a breather and using a screen so they can take a shower, or just take a break. Screens aren't going anywhere and kids should know how to use them.

The caveat is knowing how to use them in a healthy dose.

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Mary-Faith Martinez is a writer for YourTango who covers entertainment, news and human interest topics.