Spring Break and Screen Time

IT’S SPRING BREAK TIME! 
My son is excited about no school for the week.  For me, it’s the same daily routines.  While the world is still finding new ways to do things with Covid-19, our break will be at home.  Besides his streaming schedule and making YouTube content, guaranteed my son will be playing video games while hanging out online with his friends all day through the week.  I am 100% good with that.

So, are the routines getting tossed out the window for the week?
 
While he was having breakfast yesterday morning, I asked him if he was still planning on sticking to his routine.  I was a little surprised when he said, “I’m going to try to.”   I am so impressed and proud that he is sticking to his routines more now than ever.  I don’t plan on changing anything in my routines this week either.  Previous years during his break, we would often stay up way too late playing Guild Wars 2, or World of Warcraft.  My husband would be in bed before us, and up before us.  All our schedules were a mess!

When I started writing this post, I wasn’t sure what direction I was going with it.  As I continued to put thoughts down, this all came right from my heart.  I’ve been harshly judged and ridiculed by friends, family, and other parents when it comes to online school, and screen time and my son.  So, I guess this is well overdue.

I know not everyone will agree with me.  Every family has its own challenges and needs.  Let me share why I’m not overly concerned with my son’s screen time.

He’s been in online public school since the middle of 2nd grade.  We took him out of a brick-and-mortar public school when we were told he was depressed, had ADHD, and needed medications for both by the school social worker who was not a doctor of any kind.  I didn’t agree.  My son was sweet, quiet, enjoyed playing with Legos for hours, loved to read and snuggle with his stuffed animals. He was already turning into a little gamer as well.  It didn’t make sense to me why he was struggling or why he would have meltdowns after school. 

Many mornings I had to bring him in late because he was in tears before even getting out the door, or because he was struggling with asthma.  Then one morning, his teacher sat down with us and the social worker and proceeded to tell my son that his parents would end up in jail if he didn’t go to school.  That he would have to go live with a strange family because he would be taken away.  Then she told me I should drop him off at a relative’s house on the weekends to get him over his unnecessary fears.   My son was in tears!  I was in tears!  I took him by the hand, walked down to the principal’s office and told her we were done there. She felt horrible, but completely understood.  I had two weeks to get him into a new school and we decided to switch to online public school.  I would never send my son to another “traditional” public school. Ever.  I had family members telling me I was destroying my son and he would never mature socially.

I didn’t agree then, and I don’t agree now.

I decided to take him to a psychologist outside of the school system to be tested.  In our first visit, he told me my son didn’t have ADHD nor was he depressed.  He could carry a conversation and stay on topic simply fine. Now we had to figure out why he was struggling.  I was so worried I was doing something wrong as a parent. After a few more appointments of the psychologist observing my son playing, and talking with him, we had an answer.  My son was having a hard time with the sensory overload in the classroom.  His diagnoses, he is a highly sensitive child. 

The psychologist explained it like this…

For majority of people, they process the main details in any given situation.  For example, when walking into a room what do most people see?  Usually it’s things like, the artwork on the walls, the windows, the wall color, and the main piece of furniture.  When my son walks into a room, he sees all of that, PLUS cracks or spots on the walls, the texture of the fabric on the furniture, if it will be comfortable to sit on, the lighting, where the light switch is, where the outlets are, the flooring, is it soft or hard, what color it is,  how many people there are, if there are any animals and what kind, do they look friendly, the exits, what kind of sounds there are, etc.  The list goes on and on.

In a nutshell, his brain processes 10x more detail than majority of people do.  To top it off, he can recall just about all of it afterwards.  Understanding all of this has helped him with school. He can read or study something and remember just about everything about it.  It amazes me how his brain works!
(I plan to dive deeper into this topic in a later post.)

My son is a 3rd generation gamer. He has been playing video games since he was in kindergarten. Before some of you dive off the deep end, we played together as family.  As he got a little older, he started playing MMORPG’s with me, and my mom!  He’s been around people of all ages and has always done very well being respectful of adults, even broke a few of their swearing habits (and made in-game gold doing so!) and still to this day, will read guides and wiki’s to be a skilled player.  Most people had no idea how young he was because he would learn all he could about whatever game he was playing.  Thankfully, when I would let them know, we rarely had to worry about an adult being out of line around him. I was always online with him.

He’s made some amazing friends from all over the world!  While playing Minecraft and Terraria he’s met kids from Europe he still talks to.  Through his online school he has several close online friends.  We recently drove him 2 hours up north to meet up with four of them last week to have lunch and go bowling.  They had a blast!

My son is now in 11th grade and has been on the A Honor Roll every year since making the switch.   A big part of his screen time is doing his schoolwork.  For me personally, I don’t count that as a negative when it comes to time spent on the computer.  His state test scores have always been high.  His reading assessments always place him years ahead of his age.  He was reading at college level a few years ago.  It’s not easy finding age-appropriate books for that! 

He wants to be a successful content creator and esports player.  He’s been working hard to set up his path for college to get his degree in digital media marketing on an esports scholarship.  However, you can’t just decide you’re going to play on an esports league.  You must have the skill/rank teams, colleges, and organizations are looking for. That takes hours and hours of playing whatever game you’re focusing on.  For him, it’s League of Legends.  He’s very serious about his goals and is working hard to reach them. 

I know many people (friends and family included) that believe all he does is sit alone playing some game and not socializing.  That couldn’t be further from the truth!  He’s always in Discord with his friends.  They might be playing a game together or just hanging out.  He’s lead PvP teams and large World Vs. World groups in Guild Wars 2.  He’s been a Raid Leader and Guild Master in World of Warcraft leading a large group of people of all ages.  He’s been in gaming tournaments and has gone to an esports camps online. He has youth group every week in Discord that I lead with about 9 other kids. We also attend church services on Saturdays with GodSquad Church on Twitch. Honestly, I think he socializes more than I do!   

Next week, I’ll be sharing more about the online communities we’re part of along with some resources we use.  I can’t wait!

  1. What do you like to do for spring break?
  2. Since Covid-19, have you found any online communities to be part of?

Have a fantastic week!
Love to you all,
Sota

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