Sponsored by Samsung and Nuffnang
As I have mentioned before, I have been struggling with my kids’ addiction to technology as of late. I was on the search for some practical ways to control the screen time as well as how I could leverage their love, enthusiasm and natural talent for this sort of play into learning. Only Gemma had her own tablet though and the twins were left to a dvd and/or video games. Samsung sent us their new GALAXY Tab 3 for kids. I am already a devoted Samsung fan girl, so I was excited to see what their tablet was like.
In our family we are very technologically set. Our calendars are all online and synced to each other, we share books from a digital library on all of our devices and we believe in the good of being up to date with the world. The twins have never really benefited from any of that beyond getting really awesome at playing Angry Birds on my phone in waiting rooms while I run out of other options to keep them quiet. Until now they’ve been too young for much else. Honestly, I did not want to fill up my phone with games and learning apps and then have to deny them access as I needed to use my phone. I was concerned about over usage if we bought them their own tablet. I was also worried that they would only play games.
Samsung knows these issues and has built this tablet to both alleviate the worries of parents and engage the kids! The tablet itself is bright and comes with its own removable tough rubber casing to protect its edges against bumps and excited handling. It is designed to open in Kids Mode where the screen is set up with only the apps and games the parents allow their children to use. Everything is password protected so that the parents are in complete control. Since it arrived on a Friday, I allowed the twins to really play with it without many restrictions over the weekend. I let them test every app and game that was appropriate for their age. I’m glad I did because I discovered that one of the Samsung apps that came preinstalled on the tablet (Inventions 1 & 2) was a huge hit. This is a building app where the child has to figure out and put together a virtual device to solve a problem. It takes imagination and ingenuity. It isn’t an easy app and I was extremely surprised and pleased to find that they were very good at it. Of course I’ve also loaded their favourite games but here’s what I really love.
The parental controls can be customised so that the tablet can be used for certain set amount of time and when the time is up they get a friendly little warning from a cartoon character one minute before it gently turns off instead of me, their mother, screaming for them to put it down for the 14th time. When the timer went off, Kieran ran to me with the tablet and said that “a little dog” told him time was up and he was going to do something else. There was no stomping of disappointed little feet, nor rolling of angry little eyes. He was happy about it. I was pleasantly surprised, but I guess coming from a happy little cartoon dog on the screen is much better than when it comes from me. I wonder if I can program it to tell the twins to eat their vegetables as well? Or clean their room?! I digress, back to what the thing can do!
Another time control I have implemented is that the device can only be used during certain times of day so that there is no temptation to play on it while they should be doing something else like getting ready for school. It is only on from 4-6pm which is homework or chill out time in our house. There is no more arguing with me. No matter how much they plead or try to get away with it anyway, the tablet is off until it isn’t and I am not really in control of that in their eyes. I don’t have to be the bad guy this time. That tablet doesn’t fall for any of their tactics.
With the parental settings, I am also completely relaxed knowing that the twins can’t get to the internet, accidentally delete anything important nor access any areas where purchasing virtual stuff with real money happens.
It is so easy and quick to configure what apps they are allowed to use. Ticking a simple check box is all it takes to add it to the menu available to them in Kids Mode. (It comes preloaded with eight best selling kids apps, but you can also download and install more from the kids app store! We bought a few from there and downloaded some I had already purchased from the Google Play store.) The checkbox system of app control has come in handy after I discovered they were quickly becoming addicted to one game. While I wanted them to use the tablet to practice some reading words, they would click back over and start playing that other game. Instead of having to uninstall it, I just logged into the parent control panel and un-ticked the box next that app. I have now decided that since it is so easy to manage this way, I would turn off all the silly games during the week leaving them only with the fun learning apps until the weekend. Now I know when they get their 20 minutes of screen time after school, it is put to educational use!
The new GALAXY Tab 3 for kids has the ability to turn into a normal tablet for adults, but this one will stay just for the kids. I like that they have their own device. While the twins will get a lot of use out of the Kids Mode, the tablet can change with their needs and interests. If you are considering buying this for a child at the older end of the age range, you will not be stuck with something they outgrow.
The Samsung GALAXY Tab 3 for kids fills the exact requirements of the playful learning device I was looking for while being the toy that the twins are excited to spend time on.
Note to parents of multiple children: I did buy a headphones splitter for the tablet as the twins like to sit together and watch each other play. With the headphone splitter, it is easier to get them to “share” the one tablet as they feel they are still involved during the other’s turn.
Of course, I can’t review this with my kids without talking about the camera, now can I? While its resolution is not something that I would be able to use for myself, it is perfect for the twins! The built in stickers that they can add to people had them laughing for a long time. I have not added any extra editing apps to the tablet although I did install Instagram on the “adult” side so that I could share their hilarious creations. Samsung has made taking photos even more fun for my kids!
To stand a chance of winning a $100 Google Play voucher*, please tell me in a comment below:
“How would the Samsung GALAXY Tab 3 for kids fit in your life?”
Get in quick as the contest closes on 25 April!
*This is a game of skill and entries will be judged based on creativity and originality. Open to Australian residents only. Entries open 9:01am AEDT on Monday 14 April 2014 and close 5:00pm AEDT on Friday 25 April, 2014. Terms and Conditions apply. Please click here for full Terms and Conditions.