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But, I'm living with a very specific subset of the population of children here in the Hatter House. You see, here, I don't limit Mad Natter's screen time. We have definite bedtimes, and we don't watch during meals, as that leads to more watching and less eating, but otherwise... as long as our schoolwork is done on a given day, I really don't care. Thing is, Mad Natter is learning things like crazy. He's picked up turns of phrase that are very different to my own (he tells me that a drawing is "quite rubbish" sometimes, and will start over again), he picks up words that aren't in our usual vocabulary (did I mention the day he told me he was extruding his Slurpee to make it look like a cupcake's frosting?), and he's able to use these videos to connect with others who are interested in the same things he is. It was rather interesting to watch him connect with a boy several years his senior over their shared love of YouTuber Stampy Longnose
More than that, though, I've noticed that even his "recreational" watching isn't the kind of brain candy you'd expect. Certainly, there's a level of watching random things just for the sake of downtime - usually things like Thomas the Tank Engine, or Pajanimals, or something similar, but his active watching? The things he seeks out when he's alert and able to engage? Stampy Longnose videos. Skylander Boy and Skylander Dad videos. MarioKart 8 videos. It's all around video games, yes - Minecraft, Skylanders SWAP Force, and MarioKart, respectively - but it's all for a purpose. He's watching these videos and learning how to use wool to build a house in the colors you want, while still having the outside of cobblestone. He's learning what moves and what characters he wants to work on or buy next. He's learning strategies and how-tos that are teaching him logic and problem-solving. He's taking so much more from these videos than the producers must ever guess, than I ever suspected. It's been incredible watching him pick up tidbits, and then go and try to build, design, or just play it himself. It's teaching him confidence, and each time one of these videos doesn't go as the YouTuber planned, he's learning that it's okay to fail. That it's okay to have things not work out the first time, that you just go back and try again, see if you can't fix where you went wrong last time.
The ability to take a moment or two and realize that it isn't the end of the world to place fifth in a race, that it's not All Over if a creeper blows up your house - or you - and that sometimes it takes patience to find and save up for that figure you wanted? That's invaluable. And it's a lesson that is so hard to pass along, particularly coming from Mom or Dad, and especially when you're six. Truthfully, if letting him have screen time is what it takes to help him learn even just that, I'd be 100% on board. That he learns so very much more from it is just a bonus.