EVERY TIME WE MEET the grandparents, the sniping starts against touchscreen devices. Whenever I hear the sniping start--and it does every time we meet--I simply bite my tongue and then let the kids tap and explore. But I limit their online forays to specific periods of the day.
Every time I skim through my newsfeeds, I spot chatter about pre-teens and screens  but I think most of the noise I hear comes from privileged technologists who seek retro activities for their families. I also hear from physicians and education experts. But you know what? I have far more time for experts who have studied the sociology of our online world or psychologists who can document exactly what happens when people behave as though they cannot live without primary contact with electronic devices. I need to seek out more of those sorts of learned voices because I want to face down touchscreen abolitionists.
During the past 13 years, while working with educators, technologists, and thinkers attending the annual ICT in Education Conference, I have advised Irish teachers not to rush headlong towards interactive whiteboards or all-school adoption of tablets. It's so easy to jump on a technology bandwagon when the grants and supports are foisted upon you. But the smartest use of the money often happens when people stop to think about what's happening when a novelty appears on scene. It might be smarter to invest in something analogue like a mini tripod (pictured below) because it could be used by students to hold an old camera phone as it helped snap and document written work. That little piece of kit would cost less than EUR 30 in camera shops across Ireland (or $23 by tapping on it and buying via the affiliate link).
I'm in the process of showing Dylan (7) how to use the Manfrotto Mini Tripod with our time-tested iPad Mini 4. It will be a tedious process because the camera man needs to be more patient.
We let the iPad into our home in 2010. With it came a whole new way--a faster way--to explore the world. It was lighter than the hard cover books we have on shelves and quicker because a little voice could simply ask for 'picture of Empire State Building' before we booked our tickets and an entire set of photos would appear. We moved up to an iPad Mini 4 and both of our primary school children learned to ask succinct and articulate questions. I see those questions in Alexa history or Google Search History because my computer log-in serves the kitchen and sitting room where those spoken requests occur.
We got excellent ideas through voice search for carving scary pumpkins and then heard several recipes read back for pumpkin pie. Seven year old Dylan has made two green screen productions (up to 10 seconds each) after he saw young boys on YouTube for Kids explaining how to do simple things
I believe in 2101, when Dylan (green screen above) will be 90 years old, he will look back and scoff at many of the screen time warnings that bracketed his youth. And I think he will be able to find historians who equate Screen Time Abolitionists with mid-20th century warnings against comic books that plagued my youth. 
- Bowles, N (2018) 'A Dark Consensus about screens and kids begins to emerge', New York Times, October 26, 2018 [accessed 26 October 2918]
- Alverson, B (2013) 'NYCC: The Secret History of Comic Censorship', Comic Book Resources [accessed 26 October 2018]