The Fading Allure of the iPad

I made the following entry seven years ago on August 18, 2012.

Thursday afternoon I bought Kate an iPad since her computer is in the shop again, and it seems that her computer is really a lifeline for her. When she is not working on a particular task like photo albums, she likes to play free cell. She also likes to get her email. I keep thinking that an iPad will be easier for her to use since she likes to use the computer in bed which can cause some problems with the connection to the power cord. 

Until I checked my old journal entries this morning, I hadn’t realized that Kate had been using her iPad for so long. At the time I got it, her primary “self-initiated” sources of pleasure were working in the yard (as much as six hours a day) and working on her computer. It’s been five or six years since she gave up the computer. It had become too difficult for her to operate. For a while the iPad was a mere adjunct to her yardwork. It’s been almost three years since she gave that up. That wasn’t because it was too hard. It related to the fact that she had pruned all the shrubs so severely that there was little for her to do. That was the major part of her yardwork although I have recently discovered that she must have been weeding as well. I say that because weeds had never been a big problem until the past two years. She obviously had been keeping them at bay.

When she stopped working in the yard, she was left with the iPad as her only source of amusement. The only thing she uses it for is to work jigsaw puzzles. She has used it morning, noon, and night. I haven’t kept track of the time, but I know that sometimes she must have spent as much as eight hours a day working puzzles.

I charge the iPad every day for her, but it is only in the past week or ten days that I have been especially attentive to the battery life left when I start the charge. My guess is that the average battery life has been somewhere between 25% and 45%. Sometimes it has been totally exhausted. Recently, the figures have been 89%, 88%, 45%, 91%, 75%, 45%, 92%, and 65%. That is a clear indication that she is using the iPad less now.

There are two primary reasons for the change. The first is that she is having increasing difficulty operating the program. The most common problem is that she gets into the store to buy more puzzles when she completes a puzzle. Just this morning, I taped a piece of paper over the upper right hand corner of the display. That is where the icon for the store appears. Like so many things, that could create another problem, but it should be one for me and not her. On other screens there is an “X” icon to exit that page and go back. I don’t believe she normally gets to one of those pages. If I can address that problem, it should make Kate’s life and mine a lot simpler.

There are other problems that I can’t prevent as easily. One of those is forgetting what to do with the scattered pieces. Thus far when this happens, I have been able take care of it by telling her just to put the pieces together to form a complete picture. Another involves her eyesight. She can’t see the lines of the frame against which the edge pieces should be placed. She seems to get there by getting near the line. When she is close enough, the piece will lock in place and can’t be moved. The other issue is that she is unable to associate similar colors or shapes to figure out where a given piece might go. She just seems to keep trying until she gets it right. Similarly, she can’t distinguish between the background color and design to identify places a puzzle should go. I have worked with her enough on this issue to conclude that is impossible for her to learn because of her poor vision.

Last night was particularly frustrating for both of us. I am surprised she persisted as long as she did. In fact, she only stopped working her puzzles because I suggested that she might be getting tired, and it was time to get ready for bed. Prior to that, she had worked on her iPad more than an hour. I was watching (trying to watch) the evening news. Throughout that time, I got up and down from my chair every few minutes to address a problem.

As you would expect, I am concerned about her giving up the iPad. That would create quite a void in her life. It would also add greater responsibility for me to keep her entertained. She does enjoy her family photo books, but they provide a different experience. They are not something that holds her attention as long as jigsaw puzzles. The puzzles also have the advantage of being more interactive. They require her to think more. While I can’t know for sure, I have an idea that she derives some sense of satisfaction from completing them. In addition, she likes the beauty of the puzzle pictures themselves.

One thing I know is that I won’t be able to control much of what happens. It will be helpful if my taping over the store icon works, but the other problems are more a function of the disease itself. I’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

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