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.
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.
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?