Lessons from Tap the Frog

I have a confession to make, I am a real Tap the frog fan. I never started off that way cos it was Wun how first got into it and got Q hooked on it. Evan, who is far from playing with the iPad, is also an avid spectator. Because Q kept getting me to play along with him, I also got into it.

The gameplay is simple enough, you ¬†and your frog are faced with a series of simple time sensitive tasks: it could be as simple as getting your frog to jump five times up and down to something more complex like getting your frog to slide down a snow hill. Some tasks are beyond Q at this point; there are math based questions that he can’t answer knowingly. Though, its hilarious that he has the highscore on one such task purely by accident and clicking randomly. Or maybe I have a math genus… nah…

So, generally speaking, the game is simple enough for my 2.5yo to play; even if he doesn’t always gets maximum points. In fact, he almost never and has to play many many rounds to accumulate the in game coins. You get a coin for each star you earn and over the many times you play, the coins add up.

Q discovered the other day that there was an in game store where you can change the color of your frog, give it clothes and a background. And each add on costs frog bucks (the coins you accumulate) they take out of your bank. And while you have the cheater bug option of buying more frog bucks, we think its an utter waste of money, so we make Q earn his frog bucks the old fashion way. Mind you, since we each have the game on our iPad, we each keep our own frog bank.

Over the course of two weeks (seeing as he only gets to play tap the frog for about 5-10 minutes in the evening) our littler fella has earned enough points to dress his frog. Unsurprisingly, he kinda went a little crazy at the store and bought many things for his now police siren toting, cowboy hat wearing, farm living purple frog.

He discovered soon enough that he ran out of money and lamented when I told him he had to earn more frog bucks to redesign his frog and in his 2.5yo wisdom, he lamented: Earning frog money is so hard! It takes so long!

Such is life my son, such is life.

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Raising an unscreened child? Nah…

I know of some friends that feel quite strongly that kids user the age of three should be unscreened. That is, they should not be allowed TV, computers, smart phone devices or technology like the iPad. They cite expert recommendations against the practice and there have been much debate on the matter.

And while I do believe that toddlers should most certainly not be given that much of said stuff, I and my technology loving husband, really find introducing these things to Q (and Evan when he’s a lil older) is not only quite alright with us, but something important given that they are mainstays in the future that he’s going to be growing up in.

So, yes, we allow Q to use the iPad/iphone/ipod and he gets a fair (but limited) amount of TV time too. In fact, since daddy upgraded to the iPad 2, Q even scored his very own iPad- all filled with apps that we have curated, reviewed and tried out ourselves and shows. No less, the iPad has been a god sent on our travels with Q seeing as it duly entertains him on board flights and on those long road trips between destinations we always end up having to endure.

We do have rules, of course. Like, he does not get the iPad (or the like) till past 4pm and when he does get to have screen time, its (kinda) supervised. I monitor the shows he gets to watch (I rather he watch on our home system than on TV, for example cos there are no ads), the apps he gets to play (since I pick them). And of course, we calibrate the brightness on the devices and enforce how far he has to sit to watch TV.

Our kids are growing up in a different era; a time where technology is not a luxury but a part of life. A time where learning and childhood is markedly different from any other generation. While we parents grew up in an age where “swipe technology” was a fantastical concept (remember how and improbable we thought it when we watched it in Minority Report), its a reality in our world today. The same Today our children are growing up in.

To the parents- and experts, that scoff at the validity and soundness of what we are doing since, you know, we all grew up not having technology and were perfectly happy playing with wooden toys and climbing trees, let me just put things in perspective: last time mullets were in and policemen wore shorts.