Autism · Family

Plugging In

Last year the children received tablets for their birthdays. Initially, they were given to them so they would be able to access homework apps like Raz Kids, IXL and others. However, they generally just use them now for fun and games. And that’s okay with me.
Technology can be a wonderful thing, and it can also cause many issues, including health issues. Like anything else, “everything in moderation.” I remember someone telling me they think us allowing our children to play video games is ridiculous and that their child will play outside instead of being allowed to use the computer or have a tablet. I just smiled. You see, her son is only two. She has no idea what it’s going to be like when her son is part of the public school system. Technology is the future – and the way they operate in the school system reflects that. They use computers, iPads, and homework is often done online. Even in elementary school. She’ll find out soon enough.
Don’t get me wrong. My children aren’t little zombies playing video games and games on their tablets all day long. My children go outside. They love playing outside all year round. Need some proof? Here you go.
Catching Snowflakes in the Winter



Sidewalk Chalk on the Deck in the Spring



Tons of fun to be had in the summer time!



Running around in the Fall
So we do have fun outside. More often than not, the boys will play outside for hours. When you play outside, adventure awaits. You can do anything you set your mind to. You can have concerts with a few backyard toys becoming makeshift drums and pianos. You can climb trees that you pretend are lookouts on pirate ships. You can dive into a pile of leaves, pick flowers, go for walks. Outside you can bike, play tennis, go for a swim. Being outside is a good thing, I get that. But I’d like to argue that in our lives we enjoy a good balance of both.
During the school year, we use tablet time as a reward. For an excellent day at school, they can earn up to an hour and a half on their tablets. But we do have some ground rules.
#1. Absolutely no technological devices in the bedrooms. (I have boys. Let’s be honest, it’s a good thing to be setting the rules early on. Am I right?)
#2. Clean Before Screen. (Our children have daily chores they must complete before they can have their tablet time. This includes homework).
#3. All apps and games need to be reviewed by a parents before they are installed. (I just like to know what they are doing and what they are looking at).
#4. NO SOCIAL MEDIA. (They’re only 9 and 7 – there will be lots of time for that in the future. Safety first!)
These are pretty simple, and they will be subject to change with a few more added as they get older. For now, they are working and they allow some much needed down time for the boys.
With the pressures and daily struggles that they have, it is nice to have an activity where you can just relax. We have noticed the tablet time allows for just that. And while their bodies aren’t moving much, their mind is active. Quite a few of their games require strategy, logical thinking, and most importantly for them and their motor skill issues – good hand/eye coordination. They even have learned some money management from games that require purchasing items with hard earned coins.
We often have what we call “Plugging In” time, where we all sit together in the family room with our own set of earphones and tablet, doing our own thing. The boys might play a game or read a book. My husband will listen to some music and play some games. I will usually read a book while listening to some relaxing piano music. Sometimes I will check Facebook or play a game. It’s basically just an half hour of peace where we are together, doing something separately. And that works for us. Occasionally, someone will comment on something interesting they are reading or doing and we will all check it out. But usually it’s just quiet. On a typical day, this time is scheduled in right before supper. Previously to Plugging In, this was “the witching hour” where everyone was tired, cranky and melting down. It’s a wonderful way to start winding down the day. There is a sense of togetherness, even though we’re doing our own thing.
Everything in moderation, including screen time. And a little bit of a good thing right before supper? Works for me.


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