The Emotional Stages of Buying a Tablet for My Two-Year-Old
It all started with a phone.
The day I handed my cell phone to a one year old was a monumental mistake. It was cute at first. “Oh, look how he smiles for the camera.” “He learned to navigate the phone quickly. My God he must be a genius!” Now a year later, my Samsung Galaxy S3 has a full page of Andriod apps only he uses and he refers to it as "my phone".
So, what’s the problem?
You may ask what the issue is with a child commandeering my device at all times? The short answer is that it drains my battery and prevents me from utilizing it whenever I might find it necessary. At first he would say “phone” and I would just hand it over without a second thought. Later when it went dead at an inopportune time, I would lament at the folly of my naivete’. In subsequent situations I would deny him the use of my phone, only trading it as a bargaining chip for compliance. Now I have resorted to hiding the phone. Out of sight, out of mind right? If only it were that easy. He is all but addicted to YouTube. Any random sight or sound will trigger him to demand the phone. Where does that leave me now?
I don’t have a landline so my cell phone is my only option in case of an emergency.
It’s annoying to wrestle my phone from his kung-fu grip when a call or text interrupts his session of “ABC Toddler”.
Like seriously, I’m asking permission to use my own phone… Do I need another reason?
In the beginning I thought, “Oh this is harmless. There’s no good reason why I shouldn’t allow him to play with my phone to kill time.” I've even heard that allowing your toddler to use your cell phone makes them smarter… I think it’s a conspiracy.
What are my options?
What ever is a mom to do in this situation? I scoured the house for our old devices and put games on them. I tried an iPhone; he didn’t like the iTunes apps. Next I tried a generic android tablet I had abandoned. Consequently he also ditched it because it froze often and the apps were buggy (it applies even if that’s not a word). Lastly, I tried an Android MotoX phone. Being a toddler, my son was unable to articulate exactly what he found off-putting about this device. But I will sum it up as a FAIL.
Around Christmas time I figured I would be able to buy a similar galaxy phone for $50, add the apps and voila! I get my phone back. Surely people were running out to get the new phones that had been released, while subsequently ditching their old ones right? This proved not to be as easy as I had hoped. People LOVE all things galaxy and were not in the market for other phones. Fail.
I explained to others the issue I was having and many suggested that I buy a prepaid phone for $50, or add a line to my service plan to get the phone at the same price. As it turns out, wireless providers aren’t giving away galaxy phones. So to accomplish this I would need to pay $30 a month for the service plan or pay $300 for the phone. Fail.
The pivotal moment.
It seemed ludicrous to pay a monthly service charge for a toddler, but what's the alternative? Pay $300 for a phone? How else can I make these games available to my kid? Buy him a tablet? Wait, what? As a gainfully employed adult who doesn't personally own a tablet, the mere thought seemed incredulous. But what's the going rate for sanity these days? I asked my mommy friends and they all assured me that it’s socially acceptable to buy an expensive electronic device for a person who is not yet potty trained. Right…
So how much is this going to cost me?
Initially I took the obvious route: buy a cheap toy “tablet”. But alas, it was too late. My darling little genius already knew the difference between a “real” tablet and a replica for babies, which clearly he is not.
So here I am, shopping for a tablet for my two year old (insert face palm). He is accustomed to his dad’s iPad, but $800 is out of the question. Noting that the 10” screen was awkward for his tiny toddler hands, I mentally opted for a 7” screen. A quick web search turned my attention toward inexpensive alternatives to the galaxy tablet. After reading a few hundred reviews, I decided to forego that option given the failed attempt to convey ownership of my abandoned (low budget) tablet to him.
Next we have the kindle fire eReader. At $140, I think every child I know (besides mine) got one for Christmas. For some reason I had decided that Amazon eReaders were also android powered. It turns out this isn’t true, which means they don’t feature the playstore. After some research I found I would have to sideload apps onto the device to achieve the desired functionality… Dear Lord, this is becoming a serious undertaking!
This brings me to the 7” galaxy tablet: $380. Do I really want to go there? I mean we could share it, but then why not pay the extra $200 for the 10”? No; this defeats the purpose of buying an item that he could handle better. Maybe I could just buy myself the 10” and get him the 7”. Yeah, that makes more sense. But then who will pay my electric bill for the next three months? New plan: get a second job to pay for our tablets. There, problem solved. In the meantime however, I still have to battle my son for the use of my phone. This can't be life.
Finally, a realistic solution.
One day I discovered the most amazing thing: my younger cousin playing with a Nabi Jr. This 5” touchscreen, android powered tablet comes in a kid-friendly, drop-resistant rubber case. It features the playstore with all the beloved Android apps, Wifi, Bluetooth and a dual facing camera for $99! Winner, winner, chicken dinner!!! Where have you been all my life? And more importantly, who is going to buy mommy a 10” Galaxy tablet?