Yes, that’s the title and that’s my message for today. Damn these tablets and technology. They have interfered with my children’s sanity for far too long. I will not have it. I will not have it oh! (in my Mbaku voice).
My children can no longer look at their tablets during the week. I am the mother of 3 children with autism. I know that lots of children in this population benefit from technological devices. But let me single out tablets and ipads for the moment, because I saw my daughters addiction to these devices. I noticed years ago that my children could entertain themselves with my smartphone. I was initially impressed by my tech savvy girls with autism. My husband and I got them their own tablets. We were so excited to see them doing something independent. Those devices were cracked by the girls. Then we got them tablets with cases and screen protectors. This worked because they had their favorite apps set up and were good to go. There was no danger yet. I didn’t see signs of addiction.
When my girls transferred to school in Georgia assistive technology was introduced to them to help with their communication. I got excited about the Tech Speak device because my daughters enjoy using them and they have a great purpose. I wasn’t excited to find that my children had tablets in the classroom. I’m 40 years and I didn’t grow up in a time when technology was necessary and normalized until I got to college. I understand that the children are supervised in school. I get that there is a lock on the devices so that they can’t do or look at things that are not appropriate. So at this point I feel a little warning coming on. My children are looking at screens in school for at least an hour and I assume there may be more. Then they get home and watch television. And sometimes they indulge in their tablet after that.
I’m busted. As a parent I was in the habit of turning on the tv afterschool. As a parent to special needs children, I thought it was good for everyone to let my children use the tablet. I would get a peaceful moment to clean up, make phone calls, breathe. I made screen time a habit. I don’t expect my children to do the same things at school. I felt bad that I was compromising my children’s education because I didn’t have enough resources in our living space. I wanted to do more productive activities but I was so stressed with the other challenges of life that I went along with the programs.
Recently my youngest child had a fit for two weeks. She was fussing first thing in the morning for her tablet. She would scream at night for her tablet. She would behave righteously. She doesn’t talk but she was demanding with us. She would scream to the top of her lungs repeatedly. I gave her excuses because she doesn’t talk. I thought she was coming on her lady cycle and started pms. I had to revisit what the symptoms of autism come with so I didn’t traumatize her with my misunderstanding. My husband and I got down to the bottom of her behavior. She was so attached to her tablet that she wasn’t happy with out it. We took it away. She looked for it to be in the same place it used to and it wasn’t. We laid down the law and she listened. We have a law in our family to be happy because I said so. No that’s not it but peace and happiness is what we choose. You should see this little lady. She is smiling more. She is more engaged in books and her family. She is more alert to her responsibilities now. This is really working. The girls only watch the tablet on the weekends now. As for me, I made sure that my girls know that they are the priority. I read to them daily. I am learning sign language with them. We dance and cook. I am living better myself. I am less exhausted and that is surprising for me. Less screen time for everyone makes for a happier family. So glad we said Damn the tablets!