I admit I teared up watching this (though Kit showed it to me in contrast to another video, which was such a funny juxtaposition. If you want to see that one first then click RIGHT HERE and then come back and watch the ad below. Hysterical difference in approach.)
Clearly I am biased as an an unabashed Apple fan, but I read some critical comments about how unrealistic it is and how Apple is showing it’s okay to be disengaged from life and just an observer. A parent responded with something that really struck me – what if the teenager portrayed has special needs? Not that Apple necessarily intended it that way but the parent commenting has a child with Autism and pointed out that for many kids on the spectrum any social engagement is hard, and the actor in this ad had some little behaviors that those of us with kids with special needs see.
I watched the video again with that perspective (and it made me cry even more.) We don’t have children with Autism but we do have children with sensory, social, and verbal challenges (among other needs.) Family gatherings and holidays throwing things off schedule are HUGE challenges. Vacations are planned around minimizing the stressors for children with special needs, large family dynamics are a blessing and a gigantic challenge when you are navigating the world. In our case we have absolutely resorted to electronics to help the children cope – iPods with headphones so our child can control the auditory stimulus, cameras to let the kids document a situation without feeling overwhelmed by just sitting and observing or being asked to engage socially and verbally in ways they cannot, games on iPads so they can have some quiet down time to disengage when a situation has overloaded them, iPhones so they can call a relative to talk them through things when they are struggling. We’ve tried it all! And when we are in situations in which we have to focus on a conversation yet again with another doctor or other specialist, and the kids are frustrated from the long wait, you can bet we pull out that iPad to put on a video and keep them calm.
Does it look like we’re letting our kids tune out the world and focus on a screen? You bet. Does it help them better control the constant stimulus bombarding them from the world? Yes. Does it make it possible for us to learn more from the doctors and therapists about our kids’ condition and how we can better help them because we don’t have hysterical children interrupting the conversation. YEP! It does. So while screen time is heavily limited at home, when we are out in the world we do use the devices in a variety of ways to help our kids – and they look like little screen addicts to an outside observer. I’m okay with that. 🙂
For us this technology has been a game changer for our kids. There are apps that have helped our children with speech and auditory issues; iTunes for our kids to listen to their program for helping cope with anxiety issues; not to mention the countless accessibility features of the various devices that help our son with a visual impairment. Our daily life is filled with these tools and I am so grateful for them.
(Disclaimer – I know many kids AND adults are using these devices to tune out the real world in general and kids are disengaging, etc, etc. I think it’s a parents job to teach responsible use of media devices, heavily screen what their kids are being exposed to, and to teach by example. However, I think the ad is still fantastic. 😉 )