I'd say it depends on many things.
It is definitely a good rule to make your kids finish homework before they play on their iPad, or play with their friends, or do really anything else. But I would say that you're looking at everything totally wrong if you say that these devices are just a waste of time for your kids, then go out and set ridiculous restrictions on them.
You see, an iPad, computer, or whatever is not simply a toy, they are also powerful learning tools far ahead of practically anything else.
BUT this all depends on how they are used. You see, your kids could spend hours upon hours playing Angry Birds or being glued to Netflix. OR they could play puzzles that improve their cognitive ability, watch educational videos, or even use it to do their freaking homework.
Now, I can understand that there are very few options for a child too young to read. In this case, yes, they should have VERY limited time on such devices. They need to play outside, with friends, and learn to understand the real world. But if you are limiting use for older children this can be a very bad thing. These devices can be very good for them. Of course, if they are playing mindless video games (MINDLESS is key) then it is simply a waste of time, but keep in mind that it has been shown that fast-paced action games improve many areas of the brain, such as reaction time, strategy formulation, and attention to detail.
As an example, I have been into computers my entire life (I made a looping video of a walking giraffe when I was three years old), but I was never very interested in video games. Instead I would tinker with things, learn things like image editing, video making, and then eventually, I learned how to make programs. Now I am just starting my own business making computer programs and video games.
Around grade five I moved to a place where internet was very fast and available (before then I had almost no experience with the internet) and I just started learning. I would just search Google for hours about things I was interested in. As I got older computers were more and more widely used in school and homework. I am currently a University student and more than half of it is online. We get important information about the course on our class pages and so far we haven't been given anything worth marks that didn't require the use of a computer.
On top of that, I use my device to:
- Find sheet music
- Read books
- Find information on important topics
- Watch educational videos on YouTube
- As a guitar tuner
- To write essays
- Make programs
- Record music
- Write music
- Release music
- Listen to music
- Keep in touch with my classmates and instructors
- Make videos
- Manage my business
- Learn French
- And every now and again I like unwind by watching a little bit of Netflix
(I wasn't gonna make a list, but my sentence got too long :D)
I don't spend hours Snapchatting random crap to people or browsing through a bunch of stupid pictures posted mostly by people I don't know or don't like on Instagram.
On the other side, my sister (who is still just learning to read) spends all of her free time watching the same movies over and over again. She plays on her iPad at when she is supposed to be eating and sleeping. What annoys me most is her habit to have the TV set to one of her shows AND has Netflix running on her iPad AT THE SAME TIME. She freaks out if you try to watch your own show, but whenever I am visiting home and I have to watch her I tell her she has to choose one. Granted, she does like to play some games that help her with spelling and reading as well as some that allow her to be creative. But she has developed a VERY short attention span, and even though she has so many toys and an iPad stuffed to the max with games (it shows a constant space warning) she is incapable of keeping herself entertained. But then her teacher talks to my parents about her showing signs of severe stress, I wonder why...
I can see what the world is coming to. The vast majority of people spend all of their time tapping away at their phones, wasting their time with total nonsense on social networks. People are losing personality and are overall becoming utterly useless.
So many people these days think that it's worth risking their lives (and the lives of others) on the road to text their friends about random crap. It's sad, really.
ANYWAY, the point of that giant wall of rambling text is that these devices can be such a great thing for your kids. AS LONG as you teach them to use it productively.
I hope that helped somehow :D