It’s no secret that digital media is a vice for both parents and children. From television shows to the Internet to smart phones, the screens flicker in nearly every household at one time or another during the day.
It’s so easy for kids to flip on the television or surf the Internet during downtimes. During especially cold or rainy days, the Web is a friendly face to connect you and your kids to the outside world.
But when does it become too much?
First things first, this is not a guilt trip, so unpack your bags. It’s merely meant to raise your awareness about how much time is actually wasted on the Internet. Unplugging from the digital world can be a positive change for your family.
This doesn’t mean that you have to cut the wireless bill and throw out your computer. Whether you’re hanging out at The Modern Honolulu hotel or passing the time in suburbia, unplugging can help re-center your family.
Children are surfing the Web and logging into social networks for hours a day. It’s time to pull the plug and get some fresh air.
1) Create a no-electronic zone where all games, computers, and televisions are turned off for a certain amount of time.
2) Go camping in your back yard one weekend, which forces everyone to step away from the mouse pad. Make s’mores, pack a snack, and find constellations.
3) If your child’s schoolwork requires her to be on the computer, turn the screen so that it faces outward. This encourages your student to focus on schoolwork instead of meandering online.
4) Do the real thing. Instead of watching football or bowling on the Wii, go outside and get some exercise. Lace up those bowling shoes and start a fun family competition on the local lanes.
5) Start a craft with play-doh, pipe cleaners, markers, and construction paper. Encourage your kids’ creativity.
6) If dinnertime is prime time for computer use, enlist your children’s help. Have them measure ingredients or set the table.
7) When in doubt, open a book. Whether you read aloud or your child takes a turn, the bonding time is perfect for pajama wind-down time.
8) Create family game night. Choose age-appropriate games that the whole family can enjoy, such as Monopoly, Chutes and Ladders, Candy Land, or Apples to Apples.
The point is to redirect the child. Don’t make unplugging about the negative and talk about what your child must do without. Plan events and activities to distract the child. Ride bikes or visit the zoo.
Parents who are successful need to unplug, too. Lead by example. The Internet can be a dangerous playground for children. While parents must monitor the use, it’s important to respect your child’s privacy. Snooping isn’t the recipe for success, and only breeds paranoia. If you believe there is a problem, confront the child with facts with the goal of keeping the lines of communication open.
Contributor: Laura Burkey writes for various blogs on topics, include search engine optimization, online reputation and parenting.