My son turns eight next week. For his birthday, we’re giving him a television set for his room.
Feel that? Those are various heads around the world exploding. A television set for his room? An eight-year-old? Hrumph! They turn up their lips with judgmental disdain and abbreviate “shaking my damn head” for all the Internet to see. TV rots your brain! How can a parent do that to their child?
Well, my child has Autism. His favorite thing to do in the world is watch videos. His screen of choice – the iPad. The problem with the iPad? He doesn’t watch it. He remixes it.
Sesame Street episodes turn into scratched up turntables straight out of an early ‘80s rippity-rap video. He starts them and stops them at certain points. He holds the speaker up to his ear as he claps and screams. It takes ten minutes to get through a one-minute clip of Oscar teaching about the letter R and then, as soon as he’s done, he starts over again. No educational value. No calm moments of relaxation. None of that. Watching a video on the iPad with Lucas is like attending a rave. It’s less viewing and more stimming.
When he watches TV, though, he can’t do that. He sits, somewhat fidgety, and enjoys the show from start to finish. He doesn’t know how to use remotes so there is no starting and stopping. He can’t hold the speaker up to his ear because he can’t pick the television up. In many instances, he finds one of his non-electronic toys like beads or a board book to play with while he watches the program. All in all, TV is far better for his mood and development than any of the alternatives.
I’m sure some of those exploding heads from earlier are thinking, “Well, that makes sense. Why didn’t he just explain that to begin with?” The answer to that one is simple. Why should I have to? What business is it of anyone else?
I shouldn’t have to offer reasons for the parenting I do so that others won’t judge. This isn’t their child. This isn’t their home. This isn’t their decision. It’s mine and I know my motivations behind each choice I make. I love my kids and everything I do is done for their betterment. If you know the type of person I am, you know to trust the choices I make for my kids. If you don’t know the type of person I am, then who are you to judge anyway? Go about your business.
I’m sure some people are thinking that this is because my son’s Autism makes him a special circumstance. It appears that having a non-verbal child changes what is acceptable. Some of my parenting decisions with him are questionable simply because he is on the spectrum. Well, that’s not true either.
In a classic theme here, my non-verbal son with Autism is the same as my verbal daughter without Autism in this respect. The choices I make for her all have the same reasoning. They’re done because it’s what right for her and her home. Let’s take Roblox for example.
Olivia loves the game “Roblox”. For many who don’t know, Roblox is that really fun online kids game that you read about every few months as a haven for creeps, dirtbags, and evil to creep evil dirtbaggy things to our children. Your kids are interacting with completely anonymous strangers online and the goal of the game is for your ten-year-old to role-play “dates” with randos in cyberspace. In the end, you’re just lucky if they don’t get murdered. That’s the perception.
In reality, Roblox is a platform made up of thousands of smaller games. Think of it like a box of action figures. It’s the base, but what you do with it changes depending on the game. I know this is true because I set up an account of my own. I didn’t do it because I love Roblox. I did it so I can join my daughter on occasion to learn for myself. We’ve played Hide-and-Seek, laser tag, fashion shows, and many other innocuous mini-games that don’t even come close to the scary clickbait you’ve read about.
Are there some not-so-nice things to play with on there too? Sure. There are high school simulations, dating games, and all sorts of “adult” things that I wouldn’t want my daughter to go near. I know she doesn’t…and not just because I take her at her word. I know because I check her devices and, since I am familiar with the game, I know where to look to check her history. The one time I found her playing a game that she wasn’t allowed to, I took away her access away as a punishment. She understood why, accepted the penalty, and I never saw her doing it again.
But, forget all of that. Why let her play this game anyway? It’s filled with screens and chatting and all the things we’re taught are terrible for kids. What possible benefit could it have?
Well, Roblox is where my girl learned that she loves designing houses. She spends hours constructing layouts, designing floor plans, and decorating virtual rooms. She’s even gone through our own home, taken notes, and then painstakingly recreated it in her digital world. I’ve taken countless tours of her structural masterpieces. She’s so good at it that other kids have paid her large amounts of “Robucks” in order to help them build their own dream homes. She’s prouder of these virtual creations than you would imagine. Essentially, she found what may be her calling and didn’t even know it was a thing until I mentioned it.
You like designing houses? Maybe you can do that when you grow up.
You can do this for a job?
Yeah. You’re very talented at it. Maybe one day you can go to school for architecture or interior design. You could spend the whole day doing this but with real houses.
Really?! I’d love that!
Am I saying that Roblox is perfect for your child? No. I don’t even know your child. I just know that it’s right for mine. She didn’t get kidnapped because she played it. She got introduced to something that could potentially be her career.
So, don’t judge. Don’t preach. We all have our reasons and not all of them are done to keep the kiddies occupied so we can play Candy Crush on our phones. Every kid is different. What might be a terrible decision for your child might be the perfect one for mine.
If you want to know my reasons, feel free to ask. I might tell you. I might not. Trust that I know what I’m doing, though. It would be annoying to go to each and every person and explain each and every decision I make for my children. It might just be easier if we all agreed not to be so judgmental to each other instead.