We always tend to hear/read in the news about how bad technology can be for our children, how it affects their behaviour in a negative way, makes them more lazy etc. I can see this point as my older boys would prefer to play Xbox than to go out on their bikes , they would play all day if they were allowed but I have set rules about it, they are only allowed it for a set amount of hours in a day , I make them have rests in between, some days I don't allow them time on their technology as I insist on family time like going for country walks, playing a board game or something . I think as long as its in moderation , technology isn't that bad for our children.
But for some children esp Sen children its a vital part of their lives, it may be their only link to the outside world, it may be the only thing that helps to calm them down, to help them cope with what's going on around them, even helps them to communicate as there are certain apps you can get that enables non verbal children to communicate with others -something that was not possible a few years ago. Technology opens a whole new world to people with sen.
We got Roo his first IPad at the tender age of 2yrs from a charity that helps disabled children. It's definitely been the best thing ever in our lives and helps to keep our sanity. After 4 yrs Roo can finally manage the iPad himself, he can choose what he wants to do -watch videos, play games , listen to music etc. The main things he currently uses on the iPad is Netflix so that he can watch his favourite programmes over and over & You tube. He loves watching videos of people unwrapping kinder eggs and opening the small tub to find out what toy is hidden inside. I have no idea what the appeal is as it just makes me fall asleep but it clearly captivates Roo's attention! He also watches videos of play doh, toy foods , music videos for children is also a favourite and he can often be heard humming or singing alongside to the tune.
Whenever we go out for a meal it used to be hard as Roo would often scream as soon as we got to the table and cry or yell until the food came. So we tried the iPad one day and it was amazing to be able to sit down in a restaurant without feeling stressed, trying to console a hysterical child in meltdown mode, feeling embarrassed to the stares of others who are annoyed at their peaceful meal being disturbed by a screaming child. So from that moment, the iPad came with us everywhere we went. Roo often won't eat well unless he has the iPad nearby so when in restaurants we put the iPad on the table where he continues to watch while eating and we have been getting quite a few stares, tutting and shaking heads at us as they think its bad mannered, lazy parenting, that I'm being a terrible parent by leaving him to watch his iPad but the truth be told there are times when Roo doesn't want others, want to be on his own and gets upset if you try to make him do something you want him to do and he doesn't want to...it's often not worth the distress, the upset so I rather we all were happy and stress free so if that means allowing him to have his iPad during meal times then so be it. I now no longer care what others think and anyone who comments gets told. I mean seriously they should be grateful that I'm actually thinking about others in making sure my child is calm and relaxed rather than screaming in distress because they don't understand why they have to wait for the meal to cook, disturbing others with their screaming. Surely they would rather have a happy , relaxed child.
We also have a lot of appointments which require a lot of waiting around as many of us know, things take forever in hospitals so having the iPad is a lifesaver and keeps him amused.
One thing I was always strict about was that he didn't get any screen time at night time as he has a sleep disorder and I didn't want to make it worse as many say screen time keeps them awake so it's always a rule in our house that no technology is allowed at bedtime and throughout the night. But this is a rule I've recently broken...as you may have read previously I was very sick throughout my pregnancy & at the same time the child health team decided to trail him without sleep ,meds which meant for 3 mths life was hell as he hardly slept and the lack of sleep made me more ill so in order to prevent being admitted to hospital I would give Roo his iPad when he woke up after midnight and he would happily lay in his bed watching the movies and this allowed me to doze beside me, getting some rest. Even now I will give him the iPad after 1or 2 nights of very little sleep as I need to doze for a few hours in order to function, to be a mum to my other kids. It's not ideal but what else can you do when professionals keep switching and stopping his meds.
I do sometimes think he has too much screen time on the iPad but its a necessary in his case, it helps him to stay calm in certain situations, it allows him to rest his weary body when he is having a wobbly day due to exhaustion, it encourages him to eat his meals, it helps him to relax.
No Ipad = unhappy, stressed child, meltdown central, stressed parents
Ipad = happy, relaxed child, relaxed parents, enjoyable meal
I know which one I would prefer...