Unplugged Summer


Do your kids a favor this summer and make it an electronics-free time.

FamilyTime

 Even if you have never considered doing so, or have fleetingly entertained the idea, take the plunge: Unplug for the summer.

Your kids will want to disown you, of course. But once they start talking to you again, they will thank you.

What is Unplugged?
To unplug can mean any number of things. At its most extreme, it means no television, no DVD players, no computers, no video games, no MP3 players, and no cell phones. For most families, it means banning the use of any of the above, in any combination.

For instance, if the kids are young, you might want to consider outlawing or seriously restricting television for the summer. If your kids are older, take away the video games and computer to unplug them. On the other hand, the cell phone may be a necessity for you and your children, so there’s no reason to put it in the deep freeze for the summer.

You and your kids can decide how best to unplug your family so that its benefits are realized and appreciated by everyone.

Why Unplug?
Why not? Why stay so tethered to electronics during the summer when the pace is more relaxed and there are ample opportunities to play outside, visit with friends, and expand the mind by letting it wander?

Parents report that when their kids curtail television viewing or computer games, they play more creatively, get more exercise, and seem more relaxed overall. Who can argue with that?

We’re not making a case for or against TV viewing, and there are times when it’s perfectly appropriate and fun. But during the vacation, why not encourage your kids to spend their time differently?

Many families find that when the electronic stimulation is gone, kids tend to read more books, play musical instruments, race around the neighborhood on their bikes, put on a play, or rediscover old-fashioned board games. Backyard softball games and even hide-and-seek become exciting.

Kids act like kids!

How to Unplug
Chances are your kids will not immediately see any reason to pull the plugs on their entertainment. In fact, they may very well put up a fight.

This is not a punishment but an experiment in living. If they are old enough, let the kids determine some of the parameters. Talk to them about the idea and what they and you might get from it. This will allow them ownership.

Let them come up with compromises. For example, perhaps allow an hour of TV a day, or reinstate video games on weekends. Maybe cell phones are appropriate when the kids leave the house but are turned off when they are home or spending time with the family.

There are any number of ways your family can structure unplugged time.

Successful Unplugging
Experts warn that some children will go through a testy period when they withdraw from electronic stimulation. This lasts only a few days but it’s important to recognize it for what it is.

After a few weeks, sit down with your kids and discuss how the unplugged summer is going. Chances are everyone will want to continue with the new arrangement, or they may want to alter the system by adding a few hours of TV, deciding to watch more movies, or ditching text messaging.

No one expects you or your family to disengage from technology. It’s hardly possible or desirable in our 21st Century world, but everyone will benefit from a few weeks of unplugged down time.