WHY I WON’T LIMIT SCREEN TIME FOR MY SON

You might judge our choices and think he should have much less screen time. But just stop a minute and read why I won't limit screen time for son and then make your judgements.

In the world of parenting there’s always conflicting opinions, especially when it comes to screen time.

So many people don’t want their children sat in front of a screen for too long, and I totally get that, BUT don’t judge those of us that do.

I’ve read on social media about how people hate seeing kids sat in a restaurant being ignored by their parents as they sit engrossed on a game or YouTube on their tablet. We’re those parents and I won’t apologise for it.

Our almost four year old is obsessed with his tablet and we actively encourage him to use it. Are we bad parents? You might think so. You might judge our choices and think he should have much less screen time. But just stop a minute and read why I won’t limit screen time for son and then make your judgements.

You might judge our choices and think he should have much less screen time. But just stop a minute and read why I won't limit screen time for son and then make your judgements.

My beautiful little boy has Autism. He struggles with the world.

He struggles with sound, with light, with sensory issues . He struggles with eye contact, communication, socialising, engaging. He struggles with so many things on not only a daily basis but an hourly basis too. Things affect him in a way you would never even realise.

His tablet makes a difference to him, to us, to our life as a family.

He’s almost four & is non verbal with only a handful of words, some that only make sense to us, some that are only slightly formed. When he watches nursery rhymes and counting songs on YouTube he tries to sing along. His words don’t come out but he tries so hard making his little noises.

This is something nearly three years of speech therapy haven’t been able to achieve. This is because the screen captures his attention in a way that we can’t. We join in, we engage with him, we have fun with the tablet playing some crazy videos on YouTube that he wouldn’t allow us to do in any other format. Simply singing nursery rhymes or showing him books just doesn’t have the same effect, he completely blanks us or pushes us away. Screen time is helping him make progress, he’s letting us into his world.

When we go out for a family meal, we’ll always choose somewhere quiet, a table out of the way to try & limit his sensory input so as not to overwhelm him. It doesn’t work without the tablet. When he’s going into sensory overload the result is a major meltdown. Not a tantrum but a sensory meltdown.

The tablet is helping him make progress. It is giving him a release, something to shut himself away from the world when it all gets too much, something that can help prevent the meltdown that is so distressing for him it can take days for him to come round properly. You might look across at our table thinking we are ignoring him & shoving a screen in his hand but we’re actually doing the best thing for him in that situation, you just don’t realise that by simply glancing over.

You might judge our choices and think he should have much less screen time. But just stop a minute and read why I won't limit screen time for son and then make your judgements.

He’ll put on some of his favourite songs on YouTube, mainly hour long repeats of the finger family or Kinder Egg un-wrappings featuring dinosaurs but he loves it. He will bounce, jump & twirl for hours shouting ‘di-saur’, it’s his release. Just because he has a lot of screen time doesn’t mean he’s sedentary, he burns of so much energy with his need for stimming (self stimulating behaviour when he’s in need of sensory input) like so many other Autistic children.

I won’t limit his screen time because it gives him so much, because it compliments his therapy, because it’s helping his speech, because it allows us to interact with him. He is not ignored or left to entertain himself. We don’t use it as a babysitter. His tablet is helping him to make so much progress, why would I take that away from him?

Diary of an imperfect mum

 

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74 Comments

  1. August 10, 2016 / 6:31 pm

    I think things like this shouldn’t be judged, we as the parents ultimately decide how to raise our kids, and if screen time is something you see fit then so be it.
    Chantelle Hazelden recently posted…The Trap Book ReviewMy Profile

  2. August 10, 2016 / 8:48 pm

    People can be so judgemental! It is how your boy copes with things and that is fine. Good for you for sharing.
    My girls have plenty of screen time….We watch YouTube videos together and play Minecraft together. They are not being ignored.
    Kim Carberry recently posted…I love my girls to bits but….My Profile

  3. August 10, 2016 / 10:00 pm

    This is such an important post. I’m ashamed to say that I am of those parents who has been known to judge others on their use of screen time, but I’ve always said one of my favourite bits about blogging is having my opinions challenged and my eyes opened. You are totally doing the right thing for your family! On behalf of myself, and everyone else who has done this to you, I’m sorry. I will strive to be kinder and more understanding of others’decisions. #brillblogposts
    Lucy (@Lucy_at_home) recently posted…I Apologise, My Sweet, Sweet DaughterMy Profile

    • August 13, 2016 / 7:59 am

      Such a thoughtful comment Lucy. I’m glad I’ve made you re-think, that’s exactly what I want to do , raise awareness for Autism. Everything is not as it first seems, it can be an invisible disability so the more people that understand the better. Thanks for such an honest comment xx
      gymbunnymum recently posted…5 WAYS TO MAKE MORE MONEY THROUGH SPONSORED POSTSMy Profile

  4. August 11, 2016 / 12:24 am

    Some people are too quick to judge parents decisions that they’ve made on how to bring up their children. I am glad your son has something which might be able to aid him x

  5. August 11, 2016 / 9:14 am

    I think it depends on each child individually. I can’t pretend I’ve not judged when I’ve seen a table full of kids at a restaurant and all the kids are sat on a tablet watching wrestling and the likes. I want to just tell them all to spend the time together!!! But then I’ve used the tablet to keep Josh entertained because why shouldn’t we do what makes life a little bit easier at times? Like you pointed out, it can be educational for them. If that is what works for the individual child then that’s what works! Glad you’ve found something that he enjoys, that’s huge progress for you so keep going with it!!!

  6. August 11, 2016 / 11:04 am

    I’ve seen so many of those articles online too and really dislike the way some are so preachy. Kids get too easily bored anyway, and would leave what their watching whether it’s on tv or the ipad and do something else, at least that’s what my daughter does. Besides, like you mentioned, if it’s educational and works for your child, then so be it. As parents, we kinda know what works for our children right?
    Dean of Little Steps recently posted…A Fun Filled Day at Weymouth Sea-Life Adventure ParkMy Profile

  7. August 11, 2016 / 11:44 am

    I hear you Hun ❤️ I have written about this too. Some people will never understand but that doesn’t matter as we know what is best for our children. I even had a friend shout at my son once she didn’t get that he can’t ‘play’. We are the experts when it comes to our kids. Thank you for linking up to #ablogginggoodtime 🎉
    An imperfect mum (Catie) recently posted…A Blogging Good Time #11My Profile

    • August 13, 2016 / 8:05 am

      Thanks sweet, I’ll have to pop over and read your version. I know some people will never understand, we’re in the same boat & deal with it everyday. We are definitely the experts, we know our children inside out so we know what’s best for them x
      gymbunnymum recently posted…5 WAYS TO MAKE MORE MONEY THROUGH SPONSORED POSTSMy Profile

  8. August 11, 2016 / 1:37 pm

    This is an excellent post. People are so quick to judge without any understanding of what’s going on. You have no need to apologise or explain yourself to them.
    It always seems to be the people who say things like this about screen time that are the first ones to start moaning if a child is twisting because they are bored while waiting for their food too!
    Debbie
    Random Musings recently posted…Am I Writer? The Debate.My Profile

  9. August 11, 2016 / 4:20 pm

    I’m with you on this, my son has autism too and loves his iPad, it’s something that he finds comfort in and is in control of. This means that my daughter is always on her iPad too though, but obviously if she sees her big brother doing it I really can’t stop her x #sharingthebloglove
    Emma Plus Three recently posted…Let’s Talk About…Birth TraumaMy Profile

  10. August 11, 2016 / 4:42 pm

    such an interesting post. And amazing that the tablet could help your son when speech therapy couldn’t. There is such a knee-jerk reaction to screens, and I do think they are really educational. My daughter has a massive vocabularly and I actually think it’s to do with having lots of screentime! She does a lot of other activties as well, so I don’t see the harm. #brillblogpost

    • August 13, 2016 / 8:12 am

      They’ve tried various therapies, Makaton, PECS but they can’t hold his attention or eye contact long enough to get a reaction from him. He’s so engrossed with the nursery rhymes that he tries so hard to copy the sounds
      gymbunnymum recently posted…5 WAYS TO MAKE MORE MONEY THROUGH SPONSORED POSTSMy Profile

  11. August 11, 2016 / 5:01 pm

    Thank you for this post. Love reading things that make me think! He’s your son and you know what’s best. It really is no ones business but I know that doesn’t make the judgey looks any easier to handle x #sharingthebloglove

  12. August 11, 2016 / 6:40 pm

    One tog I’ve learnt add a parent is never to judge as all too often something you may not agree with, you’ll end up doing because it works for you and your family. Lovely post and so well written. Thank you #sharingthebloglove

  13. August 11, 2016 / 7:46 pm

    You know what’s best for your child, but we live in a world where people are quick to judge. Just do what you need to do. #SharingtheBlogLove

  14. August 11, 2016 / 7:57 pm

    I love this. Some people are too quick to judge. I don’t limit my sons usually because he’s only allowed to use educational things and everything is parental controlled. I’m really glad you posted this, was a great read.

    Jordanne || Thelifeofaglasgowgirl.co.uk

  15. August 11, 2016 / 9:54 pm

    Thank you for this article, I have a son with aspergers and I find hat it is increasingly hard to tear him away from devices. He seems to cope better with his environment when he has had a bit of screen time! It is hard for others to understand and one feels judged because of it.

  16. August 11, 2016 / 10:01 pm

    This is a great post – well done for writing it, bless him. Good for you – nor should you limit it – you know him best. Kaz x

  17. August 11, 2016 / 10:52 pm

    That’s amazing that this works for you. I can’t say I’ve never judged but reading this I’m going to learn not too. Thank you ever so much X #ablogginggoodtime

  18. August 11, 2016 / 11:09 pm

    Fab post – it drives me crazy when people are judgmental about things like this without necessarily knowing the full story. If screen time helps your son to learn and develop and provides that escape he needs when it all gets too much then that is what works for him and you as a family. #ablogginggoodtime
    Louise (Little Hearts, Big Love) recently posted…Parenting Pep Talk #26 – The Squirmy PoppleMy Profile

  19. August 12, 2016 / 6:41 am

    Every parent has the right to do the right thing for their child. Every child is different and has different needs. People shouldn’t be judged on their decisions for their child, (apart from course if the child was endangered). If your child gets so much from the iPad then that can only be a good thing for them. x
    Laura – dear bear and beany recently posted…Style Challenge with George at Asda…#Mini Me!My Profile

    • August 13, 2016 / 8:52 am

      Thank Laura, this was just my point. We know our son best, we’re the ones that have to see him go into complete meltdown, struggle with his communication and sensory issues. If his ipad helps then I’m going to let him use it x
      gymbunnymum recently posted…5 WAYS TO MAKE MORE MONEY THROUGH SPONSORED POSTSMy Profile

  20. August 12, 2016 / 6:41 am

    As someone who doesn’t have kid, I keep my opinions to myself because I don’t know what it’s like really. I am glad I read your post because not every parent who has a child glued to their gadget is doing it to neglect them as I have learned today this is actually something that is helpful for your son.
    Great post
    Anosa recently posted…{Travel} An afternoon in Castle CombeMy Profile

  21. August 12, 2016 / 7:21 am

    There’s definitely a time and a place for this technology and this post shows some of its positive uses, for sure! I am guilty of using the tablets as an electronic nanny though so I can get work done, lol! It’s a lot cheaper than paying for day care!
    Elizabeth recently posted…Looking for a Food Photographer in London?My Profile

  22. August 12, 2016 / 7:37 am

    Beautifully put and it’s wonderful that the tablet brings so much more for your son in a way that you probably could never have imagined – just another example of just how wonderful technology really can be x #ablogginggoodtime
    justsayingmum recently posted…What really happens when you remove a teen from Wi-FiMy Profile

  23. August 12, 2016 / 8:44 am

    I’ve never understood why people are so quick to judge parents whose children use tablets at restaurants. Would they rather that the child was disrupting their pleasant dinner out? What business is it of theirs really? The one thing I’ve learnt as a parent is not to judge others – you never know the full story. It sounds like you absolutely know what works for and is best for your son – keep doing what you’re doing and ignore the looks! Thanks so much for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove
    Katy – Hot Pink Wellingtons recently posted…#SharingtheBlogLove #7My Profile

  24. August 12, 2016 / 9:01 pm

    Great post. And good for you. There are so many judgemental people out there that have opinions without knowing all of the facts. I am so pleased the tablet is helping your little one’s progress and long may it do so. #SharingtheBlogLove
    Jaki recently posted…Coping with tears at nursery drop offMy Profile

  25. August 12, 2016 / 10:25 pm

    A very well written post lovey. Most people are quick to judge without knowing the full situation but you know you’re doing what’s best for your child and that’s all that matters 🙂 x

  26. August 12, 2016 / 10:48 pm

    I’m so pleased the tablet is helping him progress. I don’t mind our eldest using hers to be honest. She’s come along leaps and bounds by playing educational apps on it x

  27. August 13, 2016 / 10:49 am

    I agree that people shouldn’t judge parents who use tablets or phones for their kids, whether they’re autistic or not. We take colouring and toys when we go out but they only keep our daughter amused for so long. If we want to be able to finish lunch in peace then we usually do resort to screen time and I’m not sorry about it!

  28. August 13, 2016 / 11:32 am

    I think that every parent has to make a decision that is best for their child. There is no one rule for all.

  29. August 13, 2016 / 9:38 pm

    I am with you on this one. My children are two and one but my two year old knows her way around the iPad and will happily sit and sing along to the iPad. I do honestly believe it has helped her development. I don’t believe all screen time is bad time, at all. I will also let her use it whilst we are in a restaurant, it is after all no fun for a two year old who is still unable to communicate to sit and eat at our pace. It also strikes me as double standards as a lot of the people who moan about children on iPads would also moan if my two year old kicked off in the restaurant when they are trying to enjoy their meal. They see a snap shot of our family life, they don’t see what we do all day everyday and to make a judgment over the course of a meal is just the wrong thing to do. Your story is a fine example of this. I am glad you have found something that helps your little boy, long may it continue xx -#ablogginggoodtime
    Tammymum recently posted…The Real Parenting AwardsMy Profile

  30. Mud cakes and wine
    August 14, 2016 / 9:48 am

    What a lovely post and so true, our little boy is now 6 and I do not limit his screen time, at 4 he too had very few words and his iPad he watched songs and had lots of apps to help him with words but made it fun. He now does not need it so much but we always have it when the world gets too much. You know your son #sundaybest

  31. August 14, 2016 / 4:59 pm

    Whatever works for him and make you both happy is good! There is no one else that knows your little boy as well as you. I hate when people start judging! Easy said, not easy done! Tablets also have great features to learn now so it’s all good. #SundayBest

  32. August 15, 2016 / 7:43 am

    I love your reasons behind using tablets. It sounds like it’s an amazing release and learning tool for him which is brilliant. xx
    Chloe recently posted…CURIOUS LITTLE EXPLORERS #30My Profile

  33. August 15, 2016 / 10:14 am

    That is brilliant that you have managed to engage him that way, I think its what works for the family and the child’s needs and people who have opinions should butt out! You do what is right for your boy and it sounds like you are doing just that xx

  34. August 15, 2016 / 10:59 am

    I think that every parent has to do what is write for their child and they have no right to judge another parents choices. If screen time helps your son, then so be it. My daughter also loves watching these videos too. I think all the counting songs etc are wonderful for helping them to learn. XO

  35. August 18, 2016 / 12:55 am

    Great that it’s helping him so much. & I agree – it depends on the child & the circumstances. I let mine watch tv & use tablets, and actually they have picked up a lot language wise from both. They both do lots of other things as well – I don’t think it’s a problem. #brilliantblogposts
    Silly Mummy recently posted…Toddler Latin for BeginnersMy Profile

  36. August 18, 2016 / 11:53 pm

    Great post. Funnily enough I’ve just read an article making the same point over on HuffPost this evening and it was so interesting – I never would have thought of the benefits of screen time for children with Autism but it makes absolute sense.
    My 3 year old loves his ipad and although we dont take it to restaurants yet, I don’t limit his screen because I feel that he learns a LOT from what he watches…he is a very bright little boy with an incredibly good imagination and social skills, so I fail to see what damage it’s doing him

    Thanks for joining us at #SundayBest, hope to see you again this weekend! x
    Hayley Mclean recently posted…5 Ways To Spruce Up Your Home On A BudgetMy Profile

  37. August 20, 2016 / 8:15 pm

    Oh bless his heart trying to sing along. I’d never judge what another parent does, as you don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes. My son doesn’t have autism but I have started letting him play with the CBeebies app on my ipad! Thanks for linking up to #SundayBest x
    Sian QuiteFranklySheSaid recently posted…Happy Days: Off GridMy Profile

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