An 8 year old with an iPad is a thing to behold. Ours got his for Christmas and it is the first time that he has had unbridled internet access. Prior to giving it to him I tried to enact some sort of parental settings on the browser. Safari does not have this functionality. I did manage to tweak the general settings of the iPad itself to some age appropriate levels. Once I did this the Netflix icon disappeared completely from the screen. The iPad believes that this app is only for those 14 and over. So much for that. I looked into disabling Safari and installing a browser that has parental controls. Unfortunately the only option that I could find was just a bit too controlling for me. It would have required me to tell the browser where my son could go on the internet and that would be the only places he would be able to go. Could be that I am just too lazy to actually do this. I would like to think that it was just too stifling. Instead we have entered in a trust agreement with the 8 year old. I explained to him the situation with the browser. I told him that if I caught him looking at inappropriate things, that I would take the iPad away and install the unfun browser.
So far, I believe that this is working. He admitted to me right after he got it that he had accidentally glimpsed Lady Gaga’s boob when looking at her songs. I love his full disclosure and really, who hasn’t accidentally seen Lady Gaga’s boob on the internet?
The other thing that he loves to use on the iPad is the picture and video functions. He has a slew of photos using the weird tools that create swirls and fly eyed views and applies the effects to the pictures. One of my favorite ones is a picture of him looking lovingly at himself as if he wanted to kiss himself. Most of the photos really look like bizarre aliens.
Kind of freaky. I don’t love them but clearly he does. So along with the photos the other thing I found on it tonight was a lengthy video starring himself. He has been watching this show on Animal Planet called Lost Tapes. It is basically the story of some mythical creature told by, um experts, and bolstered by a story told a la Blair Witch project. The story generally involves a set of lost tapes of youngsters in the woods or out on a boat or in a cave. They are then attacked and terrorized by the chupacabra, the Oklahoma octopus (co-worker noted that there is no water in Oklahoma) or the kraken (as in, release the). There is usually lots of close ups and shaky camera action. Tonight I discovered my son’s version of lost tapes starring him filmed in his dad’s office at the capitol. It is all full screen 8 year old face, while he pretends to run and be attacked by something by shaking the iPad about. He was alternately proud and embarrassed when I found it tonight.
Bottom line is that I am not ready to restrict the iPad use. I am not completely naïve but he kind of still is. He is not involved with social media, email, or any interactive gaming. It is a new and exciting world for him. Hopefully as he begins to explore more things we can talk about it and explore them together. I dread the day when he decides that it would be better to shut me out. Or close the door a bit. Right now though, the doors are open and I’m all for keeping them that way.