Tears, tantrums and clinging to your leg like a limpet. If you recognise these symptoms, then you probably have a toddler and know all about separation anxiety. Our 18 month old has that but he also has a more modern version of it and I suspect that it is his parents who are to blame.
Yes, our toddler has iPad Separation Anxiety – or ISA as I have decided to call it. It started off in a moment of desperation. We needed to get some more sleep after being woken up by him several times one night and thought “Let’s give him the iPad to play with.” It was the beginning of a very slippery slope. Soon, we were giving him the iPad to keep him from sliding off the airline seat and crawling up to the cockpit while we were flying.
Now, many visitors to our house express surprise that Reuben is able to unlock the screen himself with a deft, food-smeared swipe. He can also happily launch apps and has even worked out the fundamentals of Temple Run.
At first we thought nothing of it – the iPad acting as a surrogate night-time and early morning babysitter, particularly after we had downloaded several episodes of In The Night Garden to the BBC IPlayer app. Reuben was kept occupied for half an hour while we caught up on our much needed sleep. No-one tells you that leaving a six-year gap between child two and child three means you are six years older and tireder when doing the night shift.
Sadly, the downside of this is ISA. Now whenever he catches a glimpse of the iPad, he starts pointing and yelling “Da!”. If his demands are not met quickly, the crying and floor rolling begins until the coveted object is handed over. Woe betide you if you take it away – ISA kicks in within seconds and can only be alleviated with another, more interesting distraction.
It is, of course, our own fault. He sees his mum and dad hunched over an iPad, iPhone or computer at all hours of the day and night and just wants to be like them. Come to think of it, both of us get pretty tetchy if you take our gadgets away when we want to do something on them. He’s just a (silicon) chip off the old block.