DEVICE USE FOR OUR OLDER KIDS & ADULTS: LET’S WRAP THIS UP
Okay, let’s wrap this up. I’ve given you info gathered from many sources about what we should be wary of when it comes to our children and device use, whether computer, tablet, or phone. Let’s look now at older kids, teens, and adults.
At this point, I’ll change my tune
I’ve cautioned you with good reason up to this point; but now we’re headed into a different age and a purposeful period of device use.
I touched previously (in Parts 1 and 2) on the awesome use of devices for any of our kids, at any age, who are nonverbal. Apps like Proloquo2go can be lifesavers, enabling our kids to communicate with us, their teachers, and the world. There is no way to underestimate the life changing potential of these apps and their AAC devices.
But what about children/teens/adults who don’t need communication devices?
connecting them to loved ones, to friends
At this point, devices and their social media apps can be a huge blessing to teens and adults with Down syndrome. The only caution I’ll continue to give is this: monitor their use, set limits, and enforce those limits.
he doesn’t stutter on Facebook!
An awesome example of how this can be life-transforming and yet still need monitoring is my own son, Jonathan. He’s 33 now, with DS plus 2 other hanger-on diagnoses. He stutters significantly, especially when he’s excited (which is most of the time.) Listening at his bedroom door, you can tell that he communicates beautifully with himself. No stuttering. But when he communicates with another human…fill up your patience tank, because you’re going to need it.
Enter Facebook Messenger. I taught him to read when he was 5, and his high school teacher taught him to spell (thank you, Barbara!). So he is well equipped to type his communication and completely bypass stuttering. He does not have a tablet or smart phone; he has a mac, and that’s all he needs.
We love it!
So now Jonathan and I have a running stream of conversation, check-ins, and “purchase requests” (always books or music.) No stuttering involved. Even with the classic 2-finger technique, he manages to type quickly and will often be typing his response while he’s still reading mine.
But be prepared to pull the plug…
Even with his computer and FB Messenger acting as communication blessings in Jonathan’s life, we reached the point where we had to pull the plug. Literally. We took the power cord to his computer to get the message across that he can’t be on FB at midnight! So now he has a schedule and if he violates it on the sly (sneaky? who, him?), he loses the privilege for a couple of days.
But how can you monitor tablet use?
This is especially important a couple of hours before bedtime, since we now know from research that the blue light emitted from screens prevents production of melatonin, that helpful hormone that makes us sleep well. Here’s an idea, if this works with your own needs: turn off your modem. When the kids are in bed, turn it back on for yourself.
parting word: watch out for “tech neck!”
There is a new device-use diagnosis helping chiropractors and others make lotsa money: Tech Neck.
I had a scary moment once in a restaurant: I could see a young boy’s back and the beginning of a neck and that’s all!!! His neck jutted out and down so far to see his tablet that it looked like he didn’t have a head! Yipes!
If you can, train your child to hold the tablet/phone higher. We don’t need more strain on our kids’ necks.
So, in a nutshell, just monitor your older child/teen/adult’s device use and set limits. Otherwise, go for communication and connection! We can use the devices instead of them using us.