Ms. G’s Tips for a Happy, Healthy Relationship with your iPad

I have been thinking about the comment Lisa Johnson made on my blog yesterday, where she asked me what my tips would be for parents. I realized then that, in keeping with our school’s philosophy of guiding our students on their journey toward Digital Citizenship,  I would rather give tips to the students first. It is important that they realise they are responsible for their own behaviour. If they find themselves getting distracted by the iPad, then they need to figure out a solution that works for them. Although we can support them by giving suggestions, enforcing rules, etc. Ultimately it is up to them. 

Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t think the parents have a place in this guiding- they most definitely do. But each parent knows their kid- knows how much responsibility they are ready for, knows their strengths and weaknesses. For example, my daughter does not have a problem with getting distracted by the iPad. When she is doing her homework she is focused and alert. (I feel very very lucky and in no way am trying to say this has something to do with me. It is all her). But I know for a fact that other people’s kids might need more structure. perhaps in their case, guided access might be necessary and they will appreciate the intervention.  So I guess my only tips for parents is to know your kid and act accordingly. 

However, I did write up a few tips I would give to students. Here are my relationship tips for you and your iPad:

We have all felt it. The rapid pitter patter of our heart as we gently press the home button. The swoon as Siri tells us what time it is or how to solve a complex trigonometry question. It is love.

And love is good, really. But warning: love can turn ugly very quickly. One moment you are gazing dreamily at the home screen with all your apps lovingly tucked away in folders. The next it’s three o’clock in the morning and your finger is sore from tapping furiously on your angry birds game and you have to get up at seven for school and still haven’t studied for your science exam.

Love has turned to obsession and obsession is a dark land of sleepless nights, depression, obesity and loneliness.

Here are a few tips to help you keep your relationship with your iPad happy, healthy and enduring.

1. Get some sleep

Speaking from experience, getting enough sleep is important to a healthy relationship.  I know, I know. You are in the honeymoon phase. You can’t tear your eyes away from each other. You don’t want to say goodnight. But the next day you can’t wake up on time. You are late for school. You fall asleep in class and it happens to be the day where the teacher tells you exactly what is going to be on the test. You still want to be with your iPad, but everything it does annoys. It freezes when you need it. The keyboard is too small. And before you know it you are screaming hurtful things at Siri.

Luckily, there are ways to avoid such disasters.

  • Set a “curfew” for yourself and your iPad and say goodnight (shut it off) at the appointed time. This should ideally be aboutan hour before you go to bed as screen time before bed is proven to disrupt the quality of your sleep.
  • If you find it too hard to have it in the room, get your parents to help. In my house we have a corner of the kitchen counter reserved for tech. It is the place where we charge our phones and iPads overnight.

2. Be healthy

Just like sleep, healthy eating and especially exercise are very important to a healthy relationship. And no, it is not all about looking good for your love (the iPad loves you just the way you are).

  • Although the iPad is a lovely companion, it can be very lazy. If you have no choice to remain for a long time on the iPad (for example studying for an exam, writing an essay or completing a multimedia project- no, Angry birds doesn’t count)make sure that you get up and stretch every half hour. You can even set the timer that comes with the ios6. It will run while you are on other apps. When it beeps, get up and move!


  • If you really can’t tear yourself away from the iPad, use it to help you keep fit. There are many free apps where you can record your exercise. It is also a great tool for watching fitness videos.
  • But the best thing to do is turn it off and go walk the dog, or go for a run, or play a game of soccer/basketball/street hockey- whatever floats your boat! Heck, you can even go float in an actual boat if that option is available to you. The ipad will be there when you get back. Promise.

3. Get a life

A relationship is more likely to succeed if you continue to do the things that make you you.  If you wake up one day and realise you haven’t been to the gym or you haven’t talked to your friends for days or joined your siblings in a marathon game of Monopoly then you have let your relationship with your iPad take over your life. You are no longer you just the person hanging on to the iPad.

Don’t let that happen!

If you remain true to yourself I guarantee  your relationship with your iPad will be the richer. You won’t start taking it for granted. Your relationship will still have meaning.

  • Constant vigilance! Set yourself limits. Make sure you take some time away from the screen.
  • Set yourself daily challenges: I will actually talk to my parents at the dinner table tonight instead of shoveling my food in my mouth as fast as I can so I can get back to my iPad.

4. Friends and Community are important!

No relationship exists in a void. The iPad won’t be able to give you everything- it won’t be able to give you advice, (I would caution you to not take Siri’s advice. She doesn’t really know you) or listen to you rant about your parents.

  • Close your device when hanging out with friends. Give them your full attention-they deserve it!
  • Don’t sacrifice your social time for iPad gazing. Make an effort to go out with your friends, to participate in your community.
  • Make an effort to do activities with friends that doesn’t involve technology. Talk to each other face to face (no, I didn’t mean facetime to facetime). Go shopping or swimming or play a boardgame. Switch it up, for the love of pete!

5. A relationship should support you not hinder you. Don’t let it distract you!

The same goes with your relationship with your iPad. If you find yourself too distracted by the bells, whistles, games, apps, facetime etc. on the iPad and are not able to study that lovely iBook the science teacher made, or write that essay for English, here are a few tips:

  • Use the Do Not Disturb setting on your iPad! Go to settings–>Notifications–>Do Not Disturb. This will not allow any facetime calls or app notifications (eg. my scrabble app notifies me when the person I am playing with has finished their turn) for the period you set.
  • Turn notifications off for your apps.
  • Use social media to your benefit! I recently joined a facebook group for writers called Pomodoro. Here are the steps:
    • You post a time that you are starting a “pomodoro” a 25 minute period of consistent work and ask if anybody is in.
    • Depending on how big your network is, someone might join you.
    • As soon as you posted your pomodoro you do 25 minutes of work.
    • When you are done- you comment on your post, saying something like, “done!”
    • Then you get up and stretch your legs.
    • Then you repeat.

I know, I know. It sounds kind of silly. I was skeptical too. But then I actually tried it and couldn’t believe how just posting the fact that I was going to do 25 minutes of work made me actually want to live up to it. Give it a try- put the “work” back in social network!


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