The Navigator knows that I blog about my experiences as an Autism Mom. In addition to my own analysis about what I will and won’t share, I will frequently ask him if he is ok with me writing about certain things, reminding him that people he knows read the blog, so that he can evaluate how he feels about sharing a situation or re-telling a story.
He reads some articles before they get published and I will change things if he is uncomfortable – in those circumstances, I generally don’t ask him to explain further because it is his to decide.
If he doesn’t want something talked about, I take it out – no questions asked. I don’t want to inadvertently engage the parent-child power imbalance by even appearing to be asking him to defend his feelings.
He also routinely suggests things for the blog some of which I will decline to include because I think it might have broader ramifications on his privacy than he realizes.
That’s when I do engage the parent power because he may not have thought about why it might not be a good idea to share a particular something.
It is a multi-step process that includes multiple what-if analyses, being mindful of his privacy both now and in the future, appropriate barriers between him and the internet, and evaluating information through the lens of my personal values.
The old phrase is “write what you know,” which for me includes a lot of thought going into producing something for public consumption in this permeable and permanent electronic medium, which I enjoy writing, and that (hopefully) has some kind of value to others.
As might be expected, the Navigator wants to have his own online presence, too.
For a while he has been asking for a YouTube channel so that he can record his playing of video games like he sees other kids doing. We have so far decided against it because the kids in the videos are older and we think the Navigator should wait a few years, too.
Our reasoning is that when he is more developmentally mature he can make better decisions about what to record and post online.
At the time he entered the online gaming world through Autcraft (and other sites that we approved) we started having ongoing discussions about what he should and shouldn’t share online to protect himself from predators and bullies.
We talked about his not sharing his real name, his age, where he lived, etc., while he played and interacted with other players.
These concrete examples of online do’s and don’t’s for kids are simply a starting point for entering the online world. Whether based on his age or underdeveloped social understanding, he is not yet able to fully grasp the nuances of what should and shouldn’t be shared as content.
Frankly, I am sometimes stymied by it.
The first idea I had was to make his online presence private so that only a few people could access it. Then he didn’t have to worry about censoring what he wanted to produce from those who might not have his best interests in mind.
He did not like that idea because one of his completely understandable goals is to develop a following, a cadre of fans like he sees following the YouTube videos he watches.
Then I thought about setting it up so that I am the administrator so that all content would have to go through me first. But that would take away from the executive function skill building he could gain – his doing the planning, his taking the steps, and his completing and publishing his content.
Not to mention taking away from nurturing his sense of independence and self-reliance.
Needless to say, it is a work in progress and will be for a while. We will look for the balance among encouraging his interests, protecting him, and teaching him to protect himself.