There’s another column in this paper called “Things I Like.” I’m often told by people how onerous it must be to come up with 11 positive things every week. These same folks usually say they could do it on a weekly basis if they could list “Things I Don’t Like” or “Things I Hate.”
I understand that sentiment because negative aspects or things I don’t like often carry my thoughts as well. However, writing “Things I Like” reminds me of the importance of maintaining a glass half-full mentality with life. It’s sometimes easier said than done, but for a few minutes every Monday morning I force myself to think positive. It’s really not that difficult and a healthy exercise.
That brings me to an article by a parent headlined, “What I Hate About Electronics.” I’m sorry I can’t cite the source because I read it in my kids’ dentist’s waiting room and can’t seem to find it online.
Like most parents, we worry about the popularity of electronics among our kids. In sticking with the theme of staying positive, I decided to offer some thoughts on the benefits of technology and electronics on my kids’ lives. There’s no question I could come up with more negatives these days, but here’s a few specific positives I find with technology.
•Being nonverbal and on the ASD spectrum, Carson relies on his iPad to share his thoughts through augmentative and alternative communication apps. That’s why we refer to the iPad as his “voice.”
While he would rather use limited sign language, body language or grunts and moans to express himself, he has become proficient in expressing himself through his iPad. It’s not preferred because it takes extra effort and some planning to key in what he wants to say. Nonetheless, we are grateful it’s a source he has readily available. It’s much easier to use than the hardcopy picture exchange communication systems (PECS) once the go-to in the non-verbal world. These electronic apps of today are loosely based on that same concept, however.
Of course, the iPad has multiple other functions for him to enjoy. The most recent being the FitBit app so he can track his steps multiple times each day. He gets competitive about it and it’s without question made him more active.
In fact, he’s become so adept at using the app that me, Beckett and a co-worker are currently engrossed in multiple challenges over who takes more steps. He’s so competitive about it that I often find him walking up and down stairs and running from one end of the house to the other.
His new FitBit and the technology presented with it has definitely made him more active. So much so that on the way to school one cold morning this week he made me park in one of the farthest spots from the building so he could get extra exercise. That’s now his favorite parking spot.
•As far as Beckett goes, there is without question more negatives to electronics than positives. He and his friends have their own social community online through a couple Xbox games that bothers us. We monitor him closely, but it’s addictive for him and his friends. He argues that point, saying at least he’s being social with his friends, but video games like Fortnite have a way of capturing and retaining their attention in a negative way. I have no doubt he would never leave his room if we weren’t around to remind him of life outside those four walls.
Though there’s a host of concerns with these sorts of games that rely on the Internet, we have found some positives with other electronic avenues.
For instance, Beckett often refers to YouTube for help with his homework, including a couple weeks ago when he was having trouble retaining the rules on division of decimals. I actually tried to stop him initially, but he later showed me how he often uses YouTube to help him with math applications when he’s stumped. In this case, I’m not positive I would have been able to help him with his math. He often reminds me of that instance when I am listing the various reasons why YouTube, and all the nonsense featured on it, can rot a child’s brain.
There have been other ways when technology has helped Beckett with school. Being a fifth grader, his study habits are certainly a work in progress. Pam and I have both showed him some “old school” study skills, but he definitely prefers to use his iPad, specifically apps called QuizLet and Spelling City.
In our case, we use Spelling City weekly. Inside the app are all the words for the weekly spelling and monthly vocabulary tests. We have him on Sunday night take a blind spelling test for the next week’s words. The result is often not pretty because he doesn’t know the word in most cases.
In this week’s case, the words are challenging. He started with missing nine out of 25 but he had never seen some of the words, such as subservient. By Wednesday night, he only missed one – subterranean.
I will always agree there are more negatives with technology today than positives, but I’m relieved there remain some benefits.