Using iPads in family life is right. We have to accept developments in technology. After all, we wouldn't say no to reading books or listening to music, or to watching movies, either! I believe that we can have time away from the computers, tablets, games, but our kids will need to work together with others who probably use those gadgets every day.
It is possible to find the right balance between us and those crazy devices. Just try to focus on the following question:
You need to set times for playing and have regular moment for it every day. My daughter likes to play games on a small tablet and I have set two times for that. If she wakes up in the morning and it is too early to go to nursery, she can have a play on the tablet. I also let her play when we travel on an airplane, or when we go out to a restaurant and I need a break with my husband. Then I do let her play. My son is a bit more tricky. He can spend 3-4 hours on the internet. In the summer on rainy days we can be a bit more allowing, but during school term we stick to the rule that once everything is done and he's also had some fun with his sister, he can use the computer. We do always stick to normal bedtimes.
Never let your kids play before going to bed. Have at least half an hour of down time to let their brain rest.
Create rules for when it's time to play and stick to those rules!
We don't use tablets in bed. I prefer that they come out of their rooms and play on the sofa, so at least they're in a social environment. Also, there's no playing in pyjamas. They need to have their daily routines done before touching the screen.
It's very important to control what your kids play and what they search. When they're small we maintain control because we are the ones to download the games. Later chatting about it helps a lot. I talk to my son a lot about his games and explain why I don't like shooting games, and why strategy games ones are better. And he respects my thoughts because we've always talked about things.
For how long?
Sooner or later these devices will be one of their daily educational tools and also their working tools. I never play games, as I prefer other things to enjoy myself. For me, computers and tablets are for work. When my kids grow up, these devices should be communicational tools and working tools for them as well. So 30 minutes a day is OK for playing but it can easily turn into 3 hours. Useless. You must show your kids other alternatives to help them get away from the tablet.
Playing with the tablets is perfect. It's a safe world for kids. Even disappointment can be fixed. However, sitting at a computer doesn't develop social skills. So sit with them while they play and be a part of it. You can even have the whole family play together using Bluetooth or the internet.