Limiting Ipad Usage and Six Year Old

Updated on February 24, 2015
L.F. asks from Wantagh, NY
22 answers

I was wondering how much ipad time is typical for a six year old. I will make no excuses but with a baby and these cold winter days, I have been allowing my daughter to play with the iPad often. If she has no play date or we don't have a plan for the day (and after homework/after dinner weekdays) she wants to play with the iPad a lot.

When I am busy with the baby, cooking or doing dishes, I let my daughter play. I do do activities with her like reading, coloring and board games. She always wants to be doing something and at ten months old, she isn't playing with her baby sister really.

Do I take the iPad away school days and limit it to weekends? Thank you. Hoping spring is here soon for days at the park!

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answers from Dallas on

IMO, at 6-years-old she should be able to play independently doing a craft, playing in the backyard, or some other activity of her own invention when you cannot play with her. She is also old enough to be taught to be a helper, and young enough to like being a helper. :) If it were me I would enlist her help with some "babysitting", cooking, and cleaning. My 6-year-old likes using the hand vacuum best, starting the laundry, and reading to her brother.

She likes TV and the iPad too, but she is limited to 45 minutes a day a "school" day (we homeschool) and less on the weekend unless she goes to a movie.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Harrisburg on

I think it's ok in the cold months if they have extra screen time. As an adult I have more screen time in the winter as well!

And if it helps you get a few things done, it will leave you with more quality time later.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Chicago on

I nanny for a family. The children are now 10 and 13. When I started with them the kids were 5 and 8. They were allowed 1/2 hour of screen time. period. it included tv,ipod, video game, computer. 1/2 hour total. they are allowed an hour now. of play time that is not homework. as a lot of their homework is on computer. the only way to get more time was to do extra reading over and above the regular half hour a day of reading time. to much screen is not good for kids brains. I also let them slide on cold winter days when I had had as much sorry, aggravation and uno as I could stand lol. But I would be careful with letting it become a habit. Send her to play legos, barbies and dolls.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Let your kid be bored and her creativity and imagination will develop. If you are always giving her something to entertain herself with she will not need to get out of her comfort zone where creativity begins. Stop feeling guilty for not entertaining her. Spend time with her when you can and make frequent eye contact and talk to her about what you are doing and she won't be lonely as long as you are in the same room and interacting with her in some way or another. You can also ask her to do simple tasks to do around the house. 6 year old love that. Ipads stifle creativity. We don't let our daughter use the ipad during the week. Basically she only gets it on long car trips and she is used to that now. It was hard at first and I felt bad, but now I really see her using her imagination and it is amazing the stuff she comes up with.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I don't think it's the iPad or screen time that's a problem, but the fact that kids need to know how to entertain themselves and have plenty of time to do other things. They need to develop creativity and imagination, and screen time limits that. I'm all for letting them play with technology; it's the way of the future. Just be sure there is plenty of time for other things, as well.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

Our daughter is 5, our son is almost 7. During the week they get no more than 30 minutes, on the weekend days, it usually maxes out between and hour and two, depending on our plans.
They have no iPad time Monday through Wednesday. They both have after school activities and homework to do, so between those and meals and family time, there simply isn't time for it. The other days are as follows:
Thursday: 30 minutes before dinner, if all homework is done.
Friday: Depends on the weather. If it is nice we go to the park after school, if not, 30 minutes before dinner.
Saturday and Sunday: Both are early risers (usually up between 6 and 6:30 - they have both always been that way). In the morning they can have ipad time until myself or my husband get moving (it gives us some private time as well). It usually is only 30 minutes to an hour or so. After that, the weekends vary. If we have big plans it sometimes means no ipad, if it is a lazy weekend, we will let them have some time after chores and homework. Usually it doesn't amount to much at all.

The only exception is if we are in the car for a long trip. When we go to the beach, it is a 3 hour drive. The ipads help, a TON!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

So many people let the tech be the baby sitter.
And then complain later on when the kids are totally addicted to it.
There's no reason the kids can't play with dolls, blocks, Legos, other toys.
When my Mom was growing up, the thing for the kids to help with on the kitchen was they got to make the noodles.
It's a simple dough to roll out and slice (butter knife is fine for this - it doesn't have to be sharp).
Yes take the ipad away for school days and only allow it on weekends if they have earned their privileges with good behavior during the week.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I limit the ipad to weekends only for both of my boys 6 and 8 yrs. However, we don't have time for anything else besides homework, showers, and dinner after we get home during the week, especially if they have football or baseball practice. On the weekends, they play in the morning before breakfast and usually at the end of the day after we've done whatever we've done for the day. I would say they are on it about 2 hours/day during the weekend, however they also play Wii U, or Playstation with dad, so I'm sure it's a lot more combined. As long as they are getting physical activity and other activites the majority of the time, I don't see a problem with it.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I don't have a limit. For me, it's a general sense of balance. Some days they play games on the playstation for 5 hours. Other days 30 minutes. In general, my kids use Media for about 30 minutes in the morning, and then for another 2-3 hours during the course of the day. But my kids have their own computers, tablets, and then a playstation. They go back and forth with what they are really interested in using, and some days they walk off with my iPhone and pad because what they want isn't on their androids. But we are a technology house. Let me say that again, it's technology, not junk. Some avid gamers-like my hubby- grow up to make lots of money. Research shows that kids are gaining in IQ because of the skills they are picking up from, get this, video games!

My toddler probably does a few hours a day too.

In my opinion, media is no less valuable than any other activity. Why is drawing better than playing minecraft? Minecraft requires problem solving, fine motor skills, team work-collaboration, negotiating conflict-, and reading. My kids are also learning a lot of social science in the process too. They can tell you what a Golem is, for instance. In many ways, it teaches more applicable skills than most non-media activities. There are some great shows on netflix. My kids know lots of interesting stuff about animals from watching wild kratts all the time. And I swear my oldest read fluently at 4 because she spent all of 3 watching super why and word world.

My toddler has been watching utube videos of Just Dance. She is trying so hard to dance. It's cute as hell. I see nothing wrong with it. Soon she will move on to her next interest. But to do this, at 22 months, she figured out how to turn on the computer-it's a touch screen-access the browser, and then call up its history to get where she wanted. It's amazing to watch.

I should add that we homeschool, so we have tons of time in the course of a day for lots of things. My oldest also usually reads for two hours and crafts for another hour, and we are out of the house from 1-3 hours every day. We have the luxury of time...

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Rochester on

It depends on what they are doing. Tonight my 7 year old daughter has been on the iPad for well over an hour. The entire time she has been working on a math app that has higher level skills and an app that teaches basic coding. My 5 year old son spent close to an hour doing an app that teaches basic algebraic functions. We have several reading apps and math apps. My kids also use the iPad for reading. If they are working on educational apps or watching educational videos I don't limit it as much as if they are playing non-academic games or other videos.

They usually get time on the iPad every day. Definitely more time in the winter. But, my kids are also very active. They spend a lot of time running around the house and doing imaginative play, art, reading, etc. I'm guessing that most "experts" would say my kids have too much iPad time. But it works for us and I think our kids are doing just fine.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I bought my youngest a Kurio kids tablet. It came loaded with apps so always something for them. I have the wi-fi blocked so they cannot go online. With the cold weather we have, there is not much to do lately. We do not have play groups, no after school activities for my 6 yr old until the end of March when she will join a walking group twice a week. Anyway, I let them use it for an hour or so a day. Maybe this is too much but they have learned a lot. My 6 yr old has learned a bit about thinking before acting, she practices her addition, she is also getting better at reading because she does this on the tablet. My 3 yr old counts to 10 (none of us has done this with him--bad mommy moment), understands more about cause and effect, and loves to go an on app that reads a story to him. He also knows more animals than before and the actions of them. I think a tablet or pc can be very beneficial as longas it is balanced. If you have a lot of actiivities, great, but if you are busy with dinner or baby or really the weather is not letting you get out there, I think leanring in any form is a benefit.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

i don't think it's necessarily a problem IF the kid knows how to entertain himself otherwise. i don't get parents who feel that they must fill every minute of a child's time, and i have no tolerance for kids who whine 'i'm bored.'
so if your child has a great imagination and generally keeps herself busy and active and has lots of pretend activities and reading time, i'd let her play with the i-pad for an hour or two per day. but if she's whining and begging for it and complaining if she's denied it, i'd consider that a big red flag.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Hartford on

I have a four monthold and almost 9 year old and this winter has stunk. I feel like he is always on some sort of screen, with the cold weather and such it has been a struggle.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

We let the kids on the computer and tablets and phones whenever chores and homework is done. I really don't think it's "horrible" to let kids play games. I let the kids watch unlimited TV and play outside and do all sorts of stuff.

Because I don't "limit" it they don't scream and cry for it and they often are tired of it and don't want it at all. Limiting something makes it more desirable. Just like when we diet and cut out chocolate. That's all we can think about. If we'd just eat a tiny bit of chocolate we could take our minds off it and move on. Same with kids. Take it away or limit it and that's all they want.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I am more permissive than some moms here with this, I know this and YMMV.

On weekends, our rule is no screen time between breakfast and dinner. So, they often play in the morning while I make breakfast, and they sometimes play after dinner - so maybe 2 hours total per day.

The rule is basically the same on weekdays, except that obviously after dinner, homework has to be done before screen time. My opinion is that especially on weekdays, they spend all day doing what other people want them to do. For that 1-1.5 hours between dinner and getting ready for bed, they should be able to do what they want to do (within reason), including having some screen time.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

There are some good educational games and apps that you can find for her to do. Try googling best apps for 1st graders and you will get a bunch that she'll probably enjoy doing, there are so many. My 6 year old probably has "screen time" at least an hour a day, but his days are also full of school, homework, after school activities that he NEEDS some down time. If I tell him "no", he can entertain himself with his toys. I think just being aware of what they're watching is important, especially if they are watching netflix or youtube on an ipad (I hate shows like spongebob on nickelodeon) my son watches a lot of Wild Kratts which I love because he's always telling me these interesting facts about animals...he does learn a lot from some of these shows, especially on PBS. It's almost like me watching a documentary and learning something new.



answers from Providence on

A 6 year old kid should not be on the iPad all day. When my kids were that age they were allowed to play on their tablets from after snack time (which was usually about a half hour before bedtime) until bedtime. If they were home sick for a day I would make an exception and let ten ply for a little while since there was nobody to play with. My kids actually thank me for limiting video games and for making them actually do stuff. Most of the time they would rather be outside reading a book or at the park playing basket ball and walking to the lake with friends. If you let your kids play on the ups whenever they want they will turn into those teenagers who are always on their phone and have no rel life.



answers from Portland on

I don't have a time limit for the day or days when we don't allow it ... more if I walk around and see kids on their devices/tv/computer/xbox too long (I have an inner gauge) I say "Enough Screen Time! Everyone Outside!" or whatever - throw a game at them, pull out the Lego, tell them to call a friend, or get them involved in what I am doing. My kids know that means get busy fast or mom will blow. Kidding. But it's my warning.

It's no different than when my older kids would watch TV, I just knew when they'd had too much (began to look like slugs), and I felt they needed to exercise or do something creative or play with friends.

I am sure they are on it too much - however if I talk honestly with my friends and siblings, it's about the same as everyone else. We all hate their devices and electronics, are sure they are rotting their brains, but at the same time, we're all thankful for them if it's a long distance car ride or you're at the doctor's office waiting for an hour. You can only play I Spy for so long before going nuts. I know we used to all do it, but my parents said it was torture.

I kind of smiled when I read your question. It sounds like you're anticipating people telling you your daughter is on it too much. I think the fact that you are concerned tells me you're more on top of it than you think. It is winter, and you have a baby. I did whatever was necessary to get through the day when I had babies. Well, you know what I mean. I'm sure I put on one too many Dora the Explorer videos if it was the last hour till my husband got off work :)


answers from Chicago on

I think an hour per day on school holidays and weekends for a 6 yr old is plenty. Break it up into (2) 30 minute segments. I set a timer for my boys so that when it goes off, they know they have to turn the device off or lose it for next time.



answers from New York on

My kid is only 4. He's got a kindle Fire, and access to Nexflix. Until about a month ago, he would watch for about 3 minutes then get restless and walk away on his own. He's now captivated, so some limits are in order.

Can you introduce some activities that she can do on her own? lite bright, felt story boards, blocks & legos, weaving, craft projects with pompoms or popscicle sticks, making birdhouses out of milk cartons? there are a lot of indoor activity ideas on the internet/ pinterest/ library that you can peruse and then set her in motion.

F. B.


answers from Williamsport on

I only let my kids have an ipad for a few weeks. It was a nightmare. They're so much more easy to get along with without the games in the house. But my vice when I need a break is netflix shows or movies they watch. Which isn't any better. Although for some reason watching stuff doesn't make their behavior deteriorate like the games did. So you have to do whatever you feel is healthy. I find once my kids were about 4 they really didn't need the shows/movies crutch since they could draw and play more independently. Now they almost never watch it because the oldest ones love reading-even my 6 year old loves to read. He didn't read at all though with the ipad for an option. Now he plays, reads, draws, or watches movies happily. Im my case though, they can all play together, so I get it it's harder with one. Seems to me a healthy window is fine and doesn't matter WHICH days. Maybe she can play an hour while you make dinner even on school days. You just don't want her glued to it constantly and unable to entertain herself any other way.



answers from Miami on

Well, AAP says no more than 1-2 hours per day and for a baby, no screen time of any sort until age 2. Here is the link:

I have an almost 9 year old and a 4 year old. My older son is limited to one hour of screen time (all screens) per day on week days and two hour on weekends. I will make an exception to the one hour per day if he needs to work on his First in Math (online math work) or do research for a report. He fully understands that he must make choices - Minecraft or TV and which TV shows. It is a good lesson.

My 4 year old gets the same - his exception is that he can have another 20 minutes online with Duolingo (a program to teach him Spanish). He sometimes has tantrums when his quota is up and he still wanted to do something else - but he will figure it out soon.

You don't need to entertain your 6 year old. Let her read on her own - my 4 year old loves books and will read to himself (he has books memorized or tells himself a story based on pictures) for at least 30 minutes. She can color or do other art on her own - you don't need to supervise that type of activity. She should be able to do some puzzles on her own also.

Good luck!

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