You take your kids to the pediatrician when they need their annual exams, and to the dentist when they need their 6-month cleanings. But what about their eye health? Protecting your kids’ peepers is so important, and actor, dancer, musician, and gamer Jordan Fisher knows this all too well. That’s why he joined the American Optometric Association’s Eye Deserve More initiative to help people be proactive about keeping their eyes healthy. Celebrity Parents spoke exclusively with Jordan about his brand new baby, Riley, eye health, and why engaging with your kids while they’re gaming can build better bonding.
Jordan, I know that we’re here to talk about eye health, but we’re Celebrity Parents Magazine, so we need to talk about your new baby, Riley!
Be careful, I’ll talk about Riley all day! He is 6 weeks today and is an absolute rockstar. I’m going to sound like every dad. He’s a champion; he’s the smartest baby I’ve ever seen. I’ve never seen anyone more perfect! [laughs] He just went on his first work trip with Dad; we went down to Dallas for an event over the weekend. He’s so easy and just such a beautiful addition to our lives and our lifestyle. I like doing everything with him.
I give it to you because some people won’t leave the house with a newborn. But I can tell you as a mom of four, the faster you incorporate your child into your lives, as your lives are, the better off you’ll be.
Period. It’s a superpower. We’ve seen that happen in real time with friends of ours who have four or six kids and they just navigate really well. They just have them around. The kids just know what to do when we go to the airport. And right, just normalizing it as quickly as possible.
I think it’s important for kids to see their parents enjoying something other than them.
100%. He got to see me on a field at the Ford Center, guiding content and telling film crews where to go. Even though he’s only 6 weeks, he’s still looking at me, seeing us as a family in a different environment, meeting different people, different smells and different voices. It’s all a normal, everyday part of his life. We’re just content; that’s the penultimate emotion right now, a sense of completion.
Let’s talk about your partnership with AOA. It’s an amazing organization. Eye health is so important, and that’s why the 20/20/20 rule is so important.
Yes! Every 20 minutes, you look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. I love that you know that. There are all sorts of things like that are free, like ensuring that your glasses have blue light protection, and there are all sorts of software that you can download that pull up orange filters on your monitor to help ease your eyes. But man, the 20/20/20 rule is free, it takes no time at all to do, and genuinely does help at the end of the day.
I’ll never be able to protect my kids from everything but you best believe I’ll die trying. So for example, teaching Riley early on, “Hey, this is an eye doctor, and this is what a doctor of optometry does, and this is why we’re here.” You know how much I’m looking at screens, whether I’m editing films or gaming or streaming or reading scripts. You see how much I do that, but you also see Daddy take breaks and shut my eyes. This is the guy who tells me everything that’s wrong with my eyes or everything that’s right with my eyes and be clinically and medically accurate in what we need to look out for. You can never be too careful when it comes to your body or show it too much love.
I’ve sustained a couple of eye injuries in my career, and I waited until it was really bad to grasp my love for eye health and the importance of it. In recovering from a scratched cornea twice, it’s all these other symptoms that you don’t even connect to your eye health like nausea, clenched throat, tightness in the body, not being able to see fully out of one eye. You feel all those vertigo-like symptoms. It’s that human nature of, “Ow, I have an ailment, now I’ll go to the doctor,” We can prevent that and frankly, where the eyes are concerned, and when it comes to eye health, we need to prevent that because it’s a lot harder to repair those things later.
The fact of the matter is that in 2022, we are spending way more time on screens, and while we continue to evolve and develop, we’re not super humans.
I love the idea of normalizing going to the eye doctor. You go to the pediatrician for your child’s checkup, you go to the dentist for a cleaning, and you go to the eye doctor to also get your eyes screened and evaluate your eye health. But what I think keeps some people away is that dreaded puff test, which some doctors have stopped doing.
[laughs] Yes, there’s much softer, easier, nicer, no puff tests.
I’ll be the first to admit that my kids are Minecraft-loving little people, and they love their tech. As someone who is a new dad and who also loves tech, how can you wean your kids off of having too much tech?
Well, I think it’s case-by-case. You’re going to do whatever is going to work for you and your family. For us, engagement, physical time, and cuddling and playing games are so important to us, but at the same time we recognize the value of tech. We don’t look at tech like it’s a babysitter; after all, I work in the tech world and the tech space. I can tell you directly how beneficial it is for kids to grow up with devices in their hands. The trick of the matter is to teach them that life doesn’t exist here; it exists everywhere else, and this is a tool to connect you to people and places and things. All of that is wonderful, and so is this, the connection.
Instead of saying, “You’re spending too much time on this,” I say, “How can I engage with you while you’re doing that?” Maybe in that time, we can come up with an idea of something else to do. It’ll be way easier to get my son off of a video game if instead of me coming in like a monster and saying, “Stop having fun and doing what you’re enjoying!” and instead say, “What are you playing? Can I join? How can I play?” You want them to teach you, to learn the language so that when I see you playing this game, I know what to talk to you about, instead of saying, “You winning, Son?” There’s zero engagement there.
In that way, you become safe to them. You come into the room when they’re playing a game, and they’re thrilled to see you because maybe you’ll join them, rather than ask them how long they’ve been on it and shame them for being on it for too long. They’re probably having more fun doing what they’re doing than being forced to go outside and swing on a jungle gym if that’s not what they want to do in that moment. But maybe I can convince you to do that later because we’ve already been together and hanging out.
I recently had a Minecraft playdate with my daughter and initially I sucked at it. But then later on, I learned how to defeat the Ender Dragon.
You know how to defeat the Ender Dragon? Wow, that’s much farther along than I know in Minecraft! I know a couple of combinations to build some things but the end game stuff, can’t get there.
But I’ll give you an example. Gameboy came out. Pokémon Red comes out. I had it; I’m in elementary school and I’m obsessed with the game. My mom drives me to school every morning, and then she drives to work. On the way to school, we listen to music, and we’d play and sometimes we’d go to the McDonald’s drive-thru and get a little biscuit, and we’d talk and debrief. I was a gymnast and didn’t have a lot of time to play. She recognized that I didn’t have a lot of time to play, so instead of shaming me for playing in the morning on the way to school, she asked me questions the whole time I was playing Pokémon. So I got to engage with my mom. She knew what Charizard was and Mewtwo was and how many badges I had and how far the Elite Four I was in. And that save point like, “Hey, I can’t finish this now because it’s loading but when it’s done, Mom, can you save my game because I showed you how to?” I can confidently give my mom my Gameboy because she will save my data; she listens to me and knows how important this is to me and we’ve been able to connect on it and talk about it.
Those are my memories of playing video games with my mom. I have positive experiences because the conversations were positive. And I can’t wait to give those same experiences to my kids.