by Leslie Morgan Steiner
Hope you haven’t finished your holiday shopping just yet: a new Nielsen survey reports the number one gift request  from kids 6-12 is an iPad. Computers and iPods took second place. Third place? The so old-fashioned DS/DS Lite/DSi.
What happened to stuffed animals? A new sled? Bicycles? Candy canes?
My knee-jerk reaction? Not a chance, kids. I don’t want my family to be hailed as the most spoiled, indulgent posse in D.C. To verify my sanity, I checked with my 13 year old. Even he agreed no kid on the planet should get a $600 iPad from Santa. Then I went on National Public Radio to talk about the survey in a Tell Me More segment titled, “Mom, Can Santa Get Me an Ipad? " All the panelists agreed: no kid in the family should get an iPad, at least until all the adults get one.
There was one solo dissenter. Portia Robertson, a working mom of two boys, laid out her rationale: these devices, particularly a laptop computer, can be essential academic tools for her boys. What better present than a coveted electronic gadget that helps kids learn and achieve?
Portia really got me thinking. I myself have an iPad – July birthday present from my husband. Although I was pathetically old school, using a pink Filofax instead of a Blackberry, I have merged with my iPad. I use it in myriad ways I never would have predicted: my professional, personal and kids’ schedules are captured in the calendar; my songs are there; I have a iBook application; over 5,000 family photos to whip out; and the note taking section is crammed with ideas for books, columns, and to do lists, which I can email to myself for later word processing (one feature the iPad does not offer). I have gotten so that I take my iPad to cocktail parties; you just never know when it will come in handy.
I imagined my kids at school with an iPad. My 13 year is organizationally challenged, with assignments and due dates and calendars on paper scraps crumpled in his huge, heavy black back pack. He could replace all that with the iPad calendar. His math cheat sheets and Bible study topics could go onto the yellow-lined electronic notebook. He could download Lord of the Flies onto the iBook. He could take electronic notes in class, particularly good since he broke his right wrist last week, and then email the notes to himself when the time comes to tackle writing papers. He will never have to search for a sharpened pencil again! My twelve and eight year old daughters are still a little young for academic applications of the iPad – they like the flight simulator and piano-playing applications best right now – but I can see a day coming when I just might be able to justify iPads for all three kids.
So I’ve reversed myself. Forget my knee-jerk “no spoiled kids” response. We’re sticking with the old-school books, lava lamps, and clothes from Justice, Forever21 and Abercrombie this year. But I can see some iPads in my kids’ stockings in years to come.