15 Aug

Wild Bunny Arts

Collage image showing a selection of WildBunnyArts' products. Some text saying

Don’t blend in, stand out! Blaze a trail for others to follow in your new hand painted, custom designed footwear and apparel.  Be sure that nobody else is going to be wearing the same outfit as you, by asking the Wild Bunny to work her magic on your favourite trainers, boots, jacket or bag.

  • Upcycling – your trusty denim jacket or leather boots
  • Treat yourself – to an unique hand painted or printed wearable work of art
  • Best gift, ever! Make someone’s day
  • Weddings – custom Converse/Vans
  • Screen printing – tees/sweats/bags
  • Graphic design – t-shirt & other design work

Want to see what she does? Look upwards and click the Facebook or the Instagram icon, which will whisk you away to her latest projects and inspirations.  Check the Flickr albums, which are categorised for ease of viewing.  A short portfolio is available by clicking the Portfolio tab above.

Check out what her delighted customers have to say on Facebook and Etsy reviews.

The FAQ’s above are well worth a read because they contain all the common questions that get asked :p There’s no such thing as a stupid question.

Ordering:

The Queen of Shoe Tattoos (The Royal Connection on October 2017), Winner of #ksbh 29th October 2018  and other awards:

If you’d like to support my work, or would like to leave a tip, you can buy me a coffee here:

Keep scrollin’ if you want the Blog…..

19 Nov

Let’s talk about…Autism

the infinity sign in rainbow coloursSo, I might have been a bit quiet this year, but I’ve had a LOT to get my head around. Back in January I started to do a course named Understanding Autism by Future Learn.  I thought that I’d do the course because some friends of my son are Autistic and I thought that if I knew more about it, than I could explain what that meant, to him.  Coincidentally, at the same time I came across some YouTube videos about autism in women.

And the penny dropped. The reason behind my crazy messed up life. The reason for my clumsiness of body and speech.  The too-many-to-mention mix ups and misunderstandings.  The way that I can write fluently yet struggle in face to face communication.  Why I can’t stand wool on my skin or scratchy labels in my clothes.  Why my parents had my hearing tested as a child because they didn’t think I could hear them.  The way I like things neat and clean, and why my ears hurt if it’s too loud.  How I can hear electricity and nobody else can.  How I literally cannot hear someone talking to me if there is more than one noise of a similar volume going on at the same time.  Why I’ve felt like I can fit in everywhere and yet nowhere at the same time.  Why I seem to experience time very differently to everyone else.  Why I’m different, “other worldly”, “too good for this world”, and even “aggressive” or “patronising” or other such hurtful descriptions for my poor overloaded little soul.

How I’ve been gaslit into thinking that none of the above mattered that my experiences were somehow all in my head and I was making them up.  How all the bad things that have happened to me are my fault, because I was a broken, a wrong, a faulty individual.  That I deserved it, brought it all on myself, that I am flawed, and nobody else is that accident prone/stupid/careless/naive/other insult.

How I’ve cried and accepted that I was just faulty, damaged, wrong, a square peg in a round hole, a black sheep, defective and somehow deficient because I am unable to cope with things that other people seem to do really easily.

But I’m not. I’m normal. A perfectly normal autistic person and there are thousands and thousands of people out there who are just like me.  It was an emotional cannonball.  From my initial joy that there are so many people out there who have had such similar experiences of life as me, the confusion and depression hit me as I looked over a whole lifetime of experiences and re-examined them under the lens of autism.  I don’t want to go into it all here but I’ve had an unusual life that has been unusually traumatic.  The victim-blaming I experienced became even more upsetting now the light of autism has been shone on those dark places.

I’d accepted over the years that I was different from everyone around me, and now I find I am not so unique after all. At first this felt like a betrayal, but is increasingly feeling like a comfort.  But the comfort of a community also brings with it the outrage and despair that people like me have been mistreated, institutionalised, misunderstood, misdiagnosed and even killed because we are different.  The marginalisation and abuse of autistic people is a heavy burden to share, and it is still very much happening today.

So just as I found I am no longer alone, at the same time, it’s now set in stone that I will never, ever be “normal”.  I’ll never be able to enjoy normal social occasions like weddings and barbecues.  I’ll always stick out like an awkward sore thumb and I’ll never just blend in and be one of the crowd.  Some things in life will just always be hard and upsetting for me and no amount of mindfulness will fix that. And I know, you should be proud to be yourself, and I know I’ve never even wanted to be a Karen but I guess part of me wanted the normal two kids, a husband and financial security. I know that I have talents and skills that your average person doesn’t.  But it’s tough.

Online, the #ActuallyAutistic community is strong, and warm, and supportive and I’ve learned so much from my fellow autistics. But then I hop back into real life and realise how little people are aware of autism in my day to day life and how nobody understands or appreciates our struggles.  And why should they?  Before January, my main image of Autism was a little non verbal white boy, rocking back and forth and maybe screaming and biting people.  That it was some kind of brain disorder and that the explanation was the “extreme male brain” theory.

I have only just begun this journey, but I’ve learned that just because we are disabled, it doesn’t mean we are incapable.  That autism isn’t a brain defect but a difference in neurological circuitry.  I’ve learned that we experience the world with less filters than the neurotypical brain, and therefore our daily experiences are significantly more vivid in many many ways, some of which can be utterly exhausting and overwhelming.  I’ve discovered that simple things like headphones can make such a big difference to how tired I get in a day, and that not stimming causes me anxiety.  I have to move, always, and this is OK.  It’s beautiful to discover things that are helping me, but I have moments of regret, knowing that every area of my past from school results to avoiding abusive situations might have had different outcomes if I had just known I was different.

It’s been a rollercoaster, a bittersweet journey and I’ve barely scratched the surface here of my autistic internal voyage so far.  It’s hard to believe that this time last year I didn’t know that I was autistic – or that the professionals that I’ve encountered over the years didn’t spot it either.  I’ve still got a way to go till I achieve Autistic Nirvana and lose my well crafted but rapidly cracking mask completely but, I’m hoping, that getting it here in black and white, will help, a little.

In the meantime, I have so many ideas for t-shirts.  Here’s what I’ve made so far: https://www.wildbunnyarts.uk/product-category/t-shirts/autistic-pride/

27 Oct

Let’s talk about…the right to repair.

iFixit repair manifesto from https://www.ifixit.com/Manifesto

the iFixit repair manifesto, taken from: https://www.ifixit.com/Manifesto

Once upon a time ago, when your electrical items broke, you’d pop down to the local repair shop and get it fixed for a few quid.

Now though, these shops are far and few between and planned obsolescence is actually a thing. Ten years of austerity and a climate crisis though have meant that just disposing of broken items and replacing them is no longer wise for our own pocket or for the future of our planet.  For me, living on a reduced income as well as my rising panic about the Earth that I am leaving for future generations, meant that I decided to cease needlessly disposing of and replacing things as they broke.

We have a wealth of information at our fingertips – in our pockets – that can help us find out how to repair common household items.  All it takes is a small toolkit and a little self-belief and you can save yourself some money as well as having the satisfaction that you’ve empowered yourself to gain useful skills that you can use again and share.

Some of my favourite resources are youTube, iFixit and restarters.net

Not everyone is confident enough to repair items themselves though but luckily there’s a worldwide network of volunteer repair people out there to help you.  Check on facebook or therestartproject.org and search for your local group, find out when they are next getting together and take your broken items along to a repair party. 

The fixers work with you to find out whether your item can be repaired, and work with you to mend your broken items and save them from landfill. Just in Leicestershire alone there are now seven local groups:

  • Coalville fixers facebook or restarter page
  • Hinckley fixers facebookorifixit or restarters page)
  • Leicester fixers, Loughborough fixers facebook, or restarter, Market Harborough fixers or restarter, Melton space (restarter page). and Rutland fixers.

    15 Oct

    #shoutoutrevolution – Douglas Bass

    Who are you and what do you do?

    My name is Douglas Bass. I am retired. I study and advocate for the New Message from God. I advocate for the thriving and contribution of autistic people. I make and sell garments to encourage the unification of the warring tribes of humanity.

    How long have you been designing t-shirts?

    My first design was printed in May of 2019.

    What is your one essential bit of software that you cannot live without?

    I somehow manage to get along with ordinary things. I have it on my to-do list to become cleverer with graphic design tools like GIMP or Paint.Net. I use WordPress for my blog, Mystery of Ascension.

    Where is the world do you live?

    St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

    Where can I find you on the web?

    I’m @douglasbass on Twitter, Douglas Bass on Facebook, my blog is https://mysteryofascension.com/ , and my Etsy shop is https://www.etsy.com/shop/unitingworld

    What do you like to do when you are not creating?
    It seems to be important for me to engage in self-care these days. I have neglected this in the past, and it disrupted my creating.

    Have you got any pets?

    I do not. It’s hard enough taking care of myself.

    What is your favourite art book?(or, what book are you reading now,
    your choice)

    I am reading “The Journey to a New Life” by Marshall Vian Summers, one of the New Message from God books. I am also reading Book 2 (of 6) of the Masnavi by Rumi, translated by Jawid Mojaddedi.

    I love to learn. What’s your favourite fact of the day?

    I learned today that out of the four fundamental forces of the universe (strong nuclear, electromagnetism, weak nuclear, gravity), gravity is the weakest by far. I read this in a Washington Post article by Richard Panek, who has written an entire book on gravity recently:

    We can say gravitation is one of the four fundamental forces, but it’s
    such an outlier that the word “force” becomes nearly meaningless. The
    strong nuclear force (which keeps atomic nuclei intact) is about 100
    times stronger than the electromagnetic force (which creates the light
    spectrum), which in turn is up to 10,000 times stronger than the weak
    nuclear force (which facilitates the subatomic interactions responsible
    for radioactive decay). Three forces, all within six orders of magnitude
    of one another. Then comes gravitation. It’s about a million billion
    billion billion times weaker than the weak nuclear.

    21 Jun

    Let’s talk about…CBD for anxiety

    mia liljana cbd oil

    My last post described my experience of anxiety, and a few months ago I found my worst days were becoming my every day, and the good days were a distant memory.   I told my GP that my medicine was no longer working and that I needed a swap. To do this, I had to discontinue my old medicine first. Then the games really began. Have you heard of discontinuation syndrome? Nope, neither had I until I asked Dr Google why my anxiety nightmare had levelled up. Add to this a complete inability to focus on anything, remember anything and my sense of the passage of time was making the world a really dreadful place to be in. 

    Years ago, GPs would provide benzodiazapenes to relieve anxiety and these had a swift and effective action on me, even if the next day was not all that nice. I’d experience a little panic and wooziness when I stopped taking them, but they seemed to press the reset button on my brain and in the context of extreme chronic panic, the side effects were  absolutely worth it. This time, when I was going stir crazy in my own body, I was prescribed beta blockers. They knocked the edge off the fear but just made me feel like a really thick dry wedge of cardboard. I really can’t think of any other way of describing it! 

    Then, I came someone on twitter who goes by the name of Dope Buds . They sell CBD products. Now – I had already researched CBD for anxiety and had decided not to try it because a) marijuana has a very negative effect on me, making me hallucinate and have panic attacks and b) it’s not been medically tested, so nobody knows if it’s truly safe, good quality and has no long term side effects.

    However – faced with another two weeks of worsening mental distress and the only medicine I could access to help me through the discontinuation was guaranteed to make me feel like a thick dry wedge of cardboard – I was really, really desperate.  So I ordered some Mia Liljana oil, with next day delivery. 

    I was apprehensive, but I really wasn’t functioning.  I was glued to the sofa, too frightened to go outside.  Discontinuation Syndrome really is a living hell.   I took half of a dropper full.  

    Within half an hour, the majority of my panic just vanished.  I didn’t feel woozy, or sick, or any of the other side effects of every other sedative that is out there.  In fact, I was not sedated, i was energised!  I felt myself smile, for the first time in weeks.  The massive, loud, intrusive fear and internal noise just quietened.  It was as though I had stepped out from that awful, noisy, painful, storm, into a peaceful, gentle, colourful new day. I was up, dressed and cleaning the living room. 

    While some people will no doubt argue that this is the placebo effect, I can only respond that I have never in my life been lucky enough to experience a placebo effect, even when I did believe in homeopathy and acupuncture and the like. 

    It’s incredible stuff.  When I took more, I had no greater effect.  There is definitely a personal plateau level. There’s some more information about this on Hempura’s webpage.

    So I’ve experimented with a couple of different oils since then.  The one I bought was a multi-spectrum CBD.  There are also broad spectrum CBD oils, but the broad spectrum didn’t have the same calming and focusing effect of the multi spectrum.  It didn’t seem to do much at all. 

    CBD gummies have the same-ish effect as the oil with the advantage that they are easier consume and the dosing is presumably more accurate.  Some people prefer the gummies, like Yumi’s recover & de-stress ones (link for 20% off here), some the oil.  I actually really like the earthy smell of the oil.

    Since my new medication kicked in again, I still get panicky moments and I find the CBD helpful for this, though the effects are less dramatic because I have a higher starting point, I suppose.

    If I could afford a constant supply, I would consider weaning myself off medication and just using CBD oil, but I can’t afford to take it in the quantities that I’d need it.

    There are only a few disadvantages that I can see:

    1. The cost.  It’s not cheap.  I’m not saying that it’s not worth it, but if you don’t have the money, you just don’t have it.
    2. it’s hard to get an accurate dose with a dropper.  I’ve considered using a pet micro dosing syringe but I don’t want to waste any because of 1.
    3. There have been no studies of the long term effects.

    Have you ever used CBD for anxiety? 

    I’d like to compare different methods of taking it, and brands. Which brands and types do you prefer?

    I’d love to hear, either in the comments here, or on social media.

    *not a sponsored post, just sharing my discovery.

     

    .

    17 Jun

    Let’s talk about…Anxiety

    fear

    I bet you’ve heard about chronic anxiety and wondered what the big deal was? Even maybe wondered why people can just pull their socks up and get on with life? Maybe even contemplated that people with anxiety are putting on a show and should just get over themselves? A bit of stress is necessary in the workplace – I was told once – because it motivates you.

    Have you ever been nervous about an examination or a job interview? We’ve all been on edge at some point in our lives. Most of the time we ride through that worry and come out just fine on the other side. In a few days we will have wondered what we were concerned about.

    I’ve been like that too. That kind of worry, for the sufferer of chronic anxiety is really mild and hardly worth a second thought. I suffer from long term, chronic anxiety. I am going to try to describe my experiences to you.

    I feel able to talk about it just now in my life because I have been given some new medication and I think it is finally working a little bit. I can talk again, after about maybe a year or terrifying ups and downs. I don’t even know to what extent my anxiety is linked to PTSD, because I’ve had rapes, abuse, and a prolonged period of stalking. I am Autistic, so the world places extra demands on my senses even when my brain is in a non- anxious state. I will talk about Autism, another time.

    Anxiety it is not a short term thing. On a bad day, it feels as though the world is full of noisy TV static which is not only a noise but a feeling of intense fear. Colour is dimmed. A thick gloopy grey fog surrounds me. I can see no fog, but I can feel it and my body struggles to move through it, as though gravity is extra strong. The world around me vibrates and is distorted by this static noise-feeling and I struggle to focus on anything. I am lucky to have a good brain that takes me on autopilot for most of my daily tasks, but each task is exponentially more difficult and concentrating on things is super frustrating.

    My body tenses up and feels glued to the earth or to the sofa – a kind of feeling similar to that which you feel when you ride a roller-coaster and the gravity pushes you onto your seat . I feel pushed to the sofa, or my back to a wall with some kind of a force. Like when you pull two magnets apart, it takes a real big effort to move from sofa to table, from room to room. Like that moment before the roller-coaster drops, and your breathing is temporarily interrupted, your heart skips beats, but the feeling never goes away.

    On a better day I can beat the exhaustion that being in a constant state of alarm gives you, and I can appreciate my dog’s soft fur and the birds singing outside. On a worse day, leaving the house is like a terrifying game of beat the zombies where I just have to focus on my tasks and act normally so that nobody suspects that I am not.like.them. I have to ignore the fight or flight response that my brain has activated and hold it together until I get home. It will take me the rest of the day or even the week to recover.

    It’s relentless.

    Life shortening.

    It affects the whole body.

    And it’s very, very, tiring.

    There is medicine to reduce it, but, it will always come back in the end.

    I often wonder – if in a better society, one where we all had a guaranteed level of security (good healthcare, an universal basic income) in our lives – whether anxiety would decrease across the population.

    Whether if I hid my Autism less, my anxiety would lessen.

    If poverty and war were a thing of the past, would we all feel more secure?

    So. Many. Questions.

    17 May

    #shoutoutrevolution – Destai Designs

    Who are you and what do you do?

    My name is Victoria Sol, I’m a creative, disabled Viking making chainmaille in both traditional and modern ways.

    How long have you been making your freaking amazing chainmaille jewellery?

    It’s about 6 years now. I started out with other jewellery making methods but was taken with chains and making them myself. I found the amazing resource that is Maille Artisans International Leage (M.A.I.L. for short) and started teaching myself how to do it. I’m entirely self taught, with the help of the internet.

    Tell me a little about the process of making a bracelet. It looks really intricate and tough work.

    There are hundreds of different weaves (patterns) you can use, but the very basics are the same for each one. You buy rings that are half closed because of the winding method that’s used, so you either close them or open and then close them. Most bracelets start with closing one ring and opening the next. Sometimes you might close more rings to begin with, especially if you “speed weave”. “Speed weaving” is a time saving measure where you’ll close as many rings as you can to begin with rather than weaving them all in individually. It’s always important to know how to do it the basic way first, though.

    I have a time lapse video that I made a few years ago, that shows how I make one of my Pride stretchies. It shows the build-up of a weave called Half Persian 4-in-1 with rubber rings to make the finished product elastic.

    What is your one essential tool that you cannot live without?

    My pliers! I have a few, but my absolute favourites are the Xuron pliers made especially for chainmaille. I use a 90 degree bent nose and a chisel nose together for almost everything. They can handle anything from 24 gauge to 12 gauge wire, which in metric terms is 0.5mm wire diameter to 2.4mm wire diameter.

    Where in the world do you live?

    At the moment I’m in Brighton and Hove down on the south east coast of the UK. It’s a lovely, creative and LGBTQ friendly place, with lots of Good People.

    Where can I find you on the web?

    I’m pretty easy to catch in the online world.

    I have a website at destai.com

    I have a Facebook Page at facebook.com/DestaiDesigns

    I have a Facebook Group at facebook.com/groups/destai.beproudbeyou/

    I have an Instagram at instagram.com/destaidesigns

    I have a Twitter that’s used in fits and starts at twitter.com/destaidesigns

    I also have an Etsy and an Amazon Handmade shop, but it’s much easier to just find my through my website. 🙂

    What do you like to do when you are not creating?

    More creating! If I’m not making chainmaille, I’m probably making macramé or music or crochet or fictional writing or something else creative. I listen to a lot of music as well (Current favourite is Soul Extract, All time favourite is Nightwish), and I cling to my Netflix account like there’s no tomorrow. I also spend a lot of time on the internet, especially talking to friends who live far away (across town or further afield) and pottering about with my web projects.

    Have you got any pets?

    Sort of – my partner’s cat has adopted me as step-owner. I can’t keep pets in my own place so this is the best I get for now.

    What is your favourite book/art book?

    I really like the art of H. R. Giger so the Necronomicon is a beautiful book. I’m also a big fan of Warhammer 40,000 art, so any art book that the Black Library has released is probably high on the list too. I like the gothic stuff.

    I love to learn. What’s your favourite fact of the day?

    I found out last night that in a fire it’s not actually the item itself that burns. The fire makes the item turn to gas and it’s the gas that makes the flames. Mind. Blown.

    29 Apr

    #shoutoutrevolution – Betty’s Bloomin’ Bazaar

    My Beryl Cook inspired witches.

    Who are you and what do you do?

    Mum of two Aspie teenagers.  Wife of undiagnosed Aspie.  Work part time for children’s charity.  In my spare time I craft.  I started needle felting in 2013, and have not looked back!

    How long have you been making your art?

    I’ve been making art all my life.  Creativity is so important and therapeutic.  I like to paint, I have in the past used fimo, I also do a little jewellery making as I have to make my inner magpie sparkly things.Needle felting has been a constant for me for 7 years.  I love it!

    Where is the world do you live?

    I live in the beautiful garden of Kent.  With my family and 5 rescue cats.

    What is your one essential tool that you cannot live without?

    Time!  Or maybe Imagination ….

    Where can I find you on the web?

    I have a FB page: Betty’s Bloomin’ Bazaar
    and I am on Instagram

    Sleep! ? I love being out in nature with my camera.

    Have you got any pets?

    5 rescue cats, although one has been missing for 16 months. Still hoping he finds his way home to us.

    What is your favourite art book?(or, what book are you reading now,
    your choice)

    Too many! I have books on Dali, Chihuly and Grayson Perry on my nightstand.

    10 Apr

    #shoutoutrevolution – Jiska

    Who are you and what do you do?

    My name is Jiska de Waard and I work as an illustrator.

    A big part of my job is making postcards for publishers, but also
    individual ones for e.g. wedding invitations or baby announcements.
    Apart from that I work for events and restaurants where I make hand
    written menus and do chalkboard lettering.

    How long have you been drawing and painting?

    Actually all my life I’ve been drawing a lot but it became my
    profession in 2015 where I made a book about Berlin.

    What influenced, or how did you discover your amazing unique style?

    As a child I always copied other peoples work and with the years it just
    developed to what it is now. Mostly inspired by children books; my
    biggest example is the Dutch illustrator Fiep Westendorp, her influence
    you can still see very clear in my work.

    People often ask you to do something similar from what they know from
    you, so sometimes it’s hard to find the time and energy to try out new
    things. That is one of the things I struggle with at the moment.

    Where is the world do you live?

    I was born in the Netherlands, but I live in Berlin since a few years.

    What is your one essential tool that you cannot live without?

    Sadly enough it’s the eraser I guess…

    For most of my work I use water color, but that doesn’t feel like a
    must. The tiny little pencils are though because I love to work very
    detailed.

    Where can I find you on the web?

    What do you like to do when you are not creating?

    Eating lots of yummy food and drinking coffee or tea with friends.

    Have you got any pets?

    Not at the moment, but I would love to have a dog again!

    What is your favourite art book?

    My favourite art book is a book full of big prints from Maria Sibylla
    Merian, I don’t know the title, sorry.

    Another, more recent, book is ‘The atlas of beauty’ from Mihaela Noroc.
    She traveled many countries and made beautiful portraits of strong women
    all over the world.

    04 Apr

    Win a t-shirt & merch bundle

    It’s about time that Wild Bunny Arts gave away one of her awesome hand printed t-shirts.

    In 2015, WildBunnyArts had to close her previous blogging business due to a stalker, and start again from scratch. She painted some shoes as a thank-you gift for a friend, and found that she not only had a talent but that talent was wanted.

    Since then, she has been commissioned to paint onto hundreds of pairs of shoes as well as jackets, bags and even the traditional art canvases. In 2018, she learned screen printing and digital design and now makes one-off special t-shirt designs for people, and prints them herself.

    What you will win:

    • One white t-shirt in your size – mens, ladies or kids – hand printed in black, red, navy or deep green ink.
    • One packet of merch and a Cadbury’s cream egg, because of the arrival of spring.
    Wild Bunny t-shirt

    All you have to do is complete the tasks below, and sit back with your fingers crossed. Fab!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    • Worldwide
    • Photos are an indicator not a final product
    • Wins do not have an alternative cash value
    • Play nicely
    • You are awesome, thank you.
    • If the winner does not respond within 7 days, another winner will be drawn
    24 Mar

    Let’s talk about…Keeping your kids safe online, respectfully and without fear.

    Kids! Internet! These two words together can strike fear into the hearts of many an adult. This post will summarise my three decades of accumulated knowledge and signpost you to resources that will help you further your knowledge.

    I’ve been using the internet since it was non-commercial and text-based. I’ve studied Computing to MSc level and my first degree was about how I.T. affects society. I have worked in youth services and have taught I.T. to young people and adults. I home educate my son and technology plays a central role in both our learning and entertainment. I follow technology trends and run an online business, promoting it using social media. I am a victim of online stalking and abuse. I am talking as a parent of a nine year old.

    And yet, I “allow” my son unlimited screen time, and don’t use parental or age-related filters on our devices. I can tell that some of you reading this might feel those cold fingers of horror creeping up your spine as you read that. “But what if?”, and “how do you stop him seeing…?”, so, let me explain.

    Gaming

    “But they would play on it all day if I let them!”, is no doubt a common response. Not true. If you ban something, or restrict it in some way, it makes it more attractive. So, when the young person is allowed access, then sure, they will binge on it and protest if you take it away. Of course they would! You are imposing arbitrary rules, based on your own fears. Would you restrict their book reading hours? If they loved drawing, would you restrict their paper time to one hour a day? Why is it admirable to be a bookworm but atrocious to be a gamer?

    We have grown up in a completely different world. It’s natural to have fear of new things. When books first came out, they were seen as frivolous and contributing to the degeneration of young people. TV too. But games are different. They are a mentally stimulating, visually rich environment that offer steadily more challenging levels of intellectual challenges. If your kid was into carpentry, you’d probably buy them some tools, because you can see the future real world application of such skills. So why would you not similarly encourage your computer-mad kid to develop their passions? If you cannot see the real-life application of gaming skills, let me help you. Game development is incredibly well-paid. Game playing is a sport. Look up “e-sports”. It’s massive and growing. Then there’s web development, 3d modelling and animation, and these are just the directly game-related future career opportunities.

    Still can’t see it? Then I come onto my number one child safety tip: play WITH them. Sure, it might not be your cup of tea. But you don’t know unless you try. Join them in their worlds. Ask them, let them take the lead and show you how to play. Don’t be embarrassed to fail. Gamers fail a hundred times before each epic win. If you are getting mad and feel like giving up, try a little mindfulness meditation. Games will create new neural pathways in your brain and keep you from mental decline. Don’t take my word for it, go have a little look for yourself.

    Dr Jane McGonigal’s website, public talks and books come highly recommended for solid, well researched and easy to read facts about the potential of games and gamers for a positive personal and social change in the world. Start at her website.

    https://janemcgonigal.com/

    The difference between having a healthy gamer and an addict is YOUR attitude towards it. If your young person sees their passion as wrong, time wasting and harmful, they will more likely go down the route of addiction. If you take time to play with them, research the benefits of gaming and understand these amazing digital worlds, if you join them and talk to them about it, if you take genuine interest in the worlds they love, it will strengthen your bond and improve your mind and emotional resilience.

    “But they are so violent”. Yes, some of them are. But so is Tom and Jerry. There is no evidence that violent video games make more violent people. So what do I do? Number one: talk. So your kid sees a game, they want to play it and you’re just not sure. Our first stop is:

    https://www.commonsensemedia.org/

    I am not saying break the law by letting your kid buy any old game. Common sense media gives you and your child a sensible overview of the game (or film) and ratings are given by kids and adults too. The official rating scores might not tally with your ideas about what is appropriate. For example the age rating might be high because of language, whereas you know that your child would be upset by people being mean to each other or seeing blood. Youtubers show gameplay, so you could watch some of these together and decide whether your child feels that the game is appropriate for their level of maturity.

    Again, the key thing here is talk. Be open about why you may not like the idea of a particular game or movie. Let your child give their opinion. Decide together. Some things that I thought my son might like he has not, and he feels free enough to talk to me and tell me if something is too real for him and makes him feel uncomfortable. For example, he is fine with dinosaurs killing each other (they are extinct) but does not like to see humans hurting other humans.

    “But sitting still is not good for you”. I agree. I have an indoor rebounder trampoline and trapeze rings indoors, and a basketball net and trampoline in the garden for when the weather improves. My son knows to take eye and body breaks. He wriggles and jiggles and jumps here there and everywhere. He knows that I am not going to switch his screen off if he leaves it alone for a while. I also know that arbitrary switch-offs are not kind, because if hes invested time and skill into a level, then he has to reach a certain point before it saves. You wouldn’t just snatch a book out of someone’s hand and say “that’s enough now”.

    Online gaming

    Let’s talk Roblox, Fortnite and gaming with others. This is where things get more risky. As in the real world, there are mean people, bullies and sadly even people who want to take your child and do unspeakable things to them. One incredible resource that I would direct all adults to is Ineque.

    https://www.ineqe.com

    The next stage of this guide is written in conjunction with my nine year old. His main advice to you is to play with your young people. Get involved in the online games. Teach your kid how to block and report people. Let them know, in an age-appropriate way, that not everybody is kind and some people want to hurt kids online and that not everybody is who they say they are. My child’s response to people being mean is to switch servers, or play a different game. Sometimes people will evoke strong feelings of anger and as a parent this is difficult to see. His advice in such situations is to keep a distance and be there for him in a non-judgemental way when he needs me. Every child is different. Talk to the child ahead of such events and learn to respond as your child would like you to. Make sure you both know how to block, mute and report people. Ineque has plenty of digestible sensible advice about online gaming.

    Never use your real name or real life image. Never share your location, hobbies, place of work (or school) or any clubs you might go to. Learn how to report and block people, and what might warrant such measures. My son has had more aggravation from face to face kids than online ones. So tempting though it might be to ban a young person from a certain game, it is healthier to be there to help them resolve the difficulty in a healthy sand safe manner.

    Social media

    You probably use Facebook at the very least, but do you know how to stay safe? When was the last time you reviewed your privacy settings? Model healthy online behaviour and teach yourself how to modify your settings to maximise your privacy. Ask for your child’s permission before taking and sharing pictures of them online.

    A great summary of necessary safety measures can be found here: https://www.getsafeonline.org/social-networking/social-networking-sites/

    Ineque also has videos about how to manipulate the settings of popular social media apps and websites here: https://www.youtube.com/user/Ineqe/videos.

    Inappropriate content

    This might vary from parent to parent in terms of tolerance. The only rule we have is to be kind, but other parents might object to curse words, for example. My kid – like others his age – watch more YouTube than TV. It drives me nuts! I yearn some days for a nice bit of CBeebies, or even something with a decent storyline. But, it’s what he likes, so I try to watch it with him and engage in conversation about it. This is my personal choice but I let him watch on the big TV, not on a smaller device, and there’s a reason for this. Yes, part of me thinks – in an old-fashioned authoritarian way – that I paid for the TV so I should have control of what is viewed on it. But, I breathe, smile, and think about how much I will miss him when he’s off doing his own thing in a few years time. Now, I am happy to let him hog the big screen.

    However, it has two massive benefits. One, that it tests my calmness and tolerance levels and helps me to be mindful in the face of videos that I cannot always enjoy. Two, I get to see what he sees, unavoidably, in glorious technicolour. This opens up conversations about his favourite YouTubers but also about people who exhibit online behaviour that deserves analysis. We have discussed, sexism, racism, homophobia, environmental destruction, Donald Trump and the wall, bullying and trolling on the back of some of his video choices. This list will no doubt expand as he gets older.

    Like other online channels, we both know that personal preference is not a reason to block and report but that if we see something that is harmful, then we know what to do. His advice to parents is to watch videos with your kids (groan!) and that if your young people are very small, to use the YouTube Kids app. I suggest that you preemptively let your young people know that sometimes there are things online that are scary, and if they see something3 like that to come to you straight away.

    Youtube is a fantastic resource for entertainment and education, from Peekaboo kids to Ted-ed talks and Khan Academy. Here’s a cool list of channels for young people by the sensible Commonsense Media folks: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/12-best-youtube-channels-for-kids-and-teens#Minute

    This is where I’m at from the 9 years experience that I have of parenting GamerKid. Be aware that this is what has worked for us. You and your child are individuals, with unique needs and tolerances. Technology changes all the time and new hacks and hoaxes appear. Stay safe online, don’t share personal details, always make sure you have the latest updates on your devices. Use an antivirus and scan with malwarebytes. Check https://www.snopes.com/ before panicking about any new virus or rumour.

    Have I missed anything? I shall update it if I think of anything else.

    Here are a few more websites about child safety online. Be informed, keep communication channels open, and enjoy the amazing, vast digital world that we are all a part of.

    https://www.parentsprotect.co.uk/

    https://www.internetmatters.org

    https://www.nspcc.org.uk/

    https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/reporting-fraud-and-cyber-crime

    https://paladinservice.co.uk

    If you have any questions, please comment below or use the contact form/email here: https://www.wildbunnyarts.uk/order-now/

    kindness is my thing. screen printed t-shirt.