Dear Santa…I want an iPod Touch

It’s that time of year when children everywhere take out a pencil and a piece of paper to write to Santa, telling him they have been good, asking about Mrs. Claus, and providing a long list of things they hope to find under the tree.  As Peaches and Sparky get older, their lists become longer and more specific, and it becomes harder and harder for us to make decisions about what Santa will bring.  This year, when Peaches handed me her letter to send to the North Pole, I was completely thrown off guard.  At the top of the list, highlighted with stars, underlined, and labeled as her “very first choice” was “iPod touch”.  iPod Touch?!  My 8-year-old daughter wants a $300 electronic device to will allow her to text, visit websites, listen to music, and play  games?!  Really?!  This is a child who regularly loses her goggles at the swimming pool (and her sweatshirt at the park and………).  “Hmmm”, I said.  “I am not sure Santa will bring a gift that is not age-appropriate. Kids your age aren’t old enough for an iPod Touch.”  Peaches then proceeded to rattle off all the names of her friends who had one.  Shoot. Now I was stuck.  “Well, you can send your letter, and we will see what Santa says.”

In 2010, the Pew Internet Research Center presented data that suggested that the age at which children are getting media gadgets is getting younger and younger.  For example, one report found that 58% of 12-year-olds had cell phones, whereas virtually no older teens reported having a cell phone at that young an age. Given that this data is now 2 years old, I imagine the rates today are much higher.  (BTW, I actually could not find data on 8-year-olds.  The Kaiser Family Foundation does national surveys on 8- to 18-year-olds’ media use, but do not present results separately by age….).  Although third graders owning media gadgets is becoming more normative, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I will jump on the bandwagon.

Don’t get me wrong- I am not anti-technology and anti-media, and as an adult, I own plenty.  Media and technology can be a wonderful educational tool and source of social interaction and entertainment.  Peaches has had a iPod shuffle for about a year, and I love how it has increased her interest in music.  But I don’t see the need for an 8-year-old to enter the world of texting, apps, and Siri.  There is plenty of time for that when she gets older.  And we still know so little about the potential effects of massive screen time on the developing brains of children.  But how do I explain that to an 8-year-old girl?

When Santa receives his annual letters from Peaches and Sparky, he always writes back.  This year, he needs some help.  What do YOU think Santa should say?

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Categories: media gadgets | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Dear Santa…I want an iPod Touch

  1. Dayna

    Um, how about, “No.” Once the Touch is in your home, the battle changes to regulating its use. They’re not very parent friendly when it comes to limiting/screening what the user an access. Monitoring such a small device is super challenging. …Dayna

  2. Yes, we plan to say “no”, but I was looking for suggestions for explaining why. “Dear Peaches, “NO”, Love Santa” seems a bit tough… :-)

  3. Patricia Zanuck

    I can’t help with what to say to Santa, but I was going to mention that Santa can find older version ipods that are much cheaper. Our oldest boy received an ipod when he turned 7. He’s now 8 1/2. We’ve been teaching and reminding of respectful use (not when other people are around, etc) and responsible use (not until done with homework, not at bedtime, etc) and generally it’s been okay (though I have had to confiscate it a couple of times when I found him using it at bedtime). I loved that he could email/text me, his dad, my parents, his aunt, his cousin. He actually lost it on a train this summer. It was a tough, tough lesson. We did not replace it. He’s been saving up to buy another, which is hard for him because he is ipod savvy and aware of the latest features and hence the great cost! His little brother just got an ipod for his 6th birthday last month. It was an older version. As long as they are able to use them respectfully and responsibly, I’m okay with it. If they don’t, I take it away from them. Good luck with this dilemma!

  4. Peaches’ letter from the North Pole arrived today, and she seemed satisfied with Santa’s response: “”Peaches, I know you want an iPod Touch more than anything. But, I have decided not to give you one. Why? Because it is really expensive, and I wanted to give you a lot toys instead! Take time to be a kid. You will have plenty of time to be an adult later. Hope you understand!”

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