I have already talked about how we ditched cable in the hopes that the kids would do more than stare at the TV all day. Unfortunately as the kids get older, our collection of tech gear has become larger. We now have a tablet/device per kid, plus two gaming systems and a family computer. It’s ridiculous. I’m not sure how we got to this point, and while it’s nice to have all those little, and not so little hands busy during long road trips, it causes problems in day to day life.
I don’t have the time to micromanage the kids’ tech time. I relied on the fact that, over all, my kids are pretty responsible. It got out of hands a few months ago when they were waking up early to play games, not getting anything else done around the house, and spamming my Facebook friends with game requests. It came to a head when our family dog went missing because no one was paying attention to anything but their devices. I couldn’t take it anymore so my husband and I set a few rules and made a few changes – creating a tech diet if you will.
No, diet isn’t just DIE with a T (Garfield fans will get that one). Below are the ways we are cutting back our consumption of tech.
1. The kids don’t have access to the internet all the time. They can request it to download new books and occasionally new games. The only computers that have internet access 24/7 are the main family computer in the kitchen, and the laptops and cells belonging to myself and my husband.
2. The kids have a 1:1 ratio of screen time to play time. I know this sounds like a lot, but the kids get so involved with play that they forget how long they are active so in reality it becomes more like a 4:1 play to gaming ratio.
3. My husband and I are trying hard to set good examples and put down the tech in the evening while the kids are up. We go for walks with the dog, read books to our youngest and I’m hoping to bring back family game nights. We are currently a work in progress and have as of late been bringing our cells to the table at dinner. I am going to make an effort to leave my phone in my purse until we’ve cleaned up after dinner though.
4. There is no internet in bedrooms. I understand that kids need privacy, but because of porn, bullying and extremely violent and gruesome videos available to anyone who types in the right search terms I feel no guilt about this one. I want my home to be a safe place. If that means limiting access to the net, so be it. My kids have tried using music streaming services to get around this one, so we’ve gone back to downloading cds, like 1989 – Taylor Swift, from Google play and iTunes.
Technology is a big part of life, especially when you work in the online space, but it shouldn’t take over real life. I hope we can all enjoy this summer without always having our heads down and our fingers tapping madly away. I want to spend hot summer nights exploring our neighborhood, getting to know our neighbors and discovering all the wonders that Alberta has in store! I hope you will join in the fun of jumping back into the real world by taking on a little tech diet of your own.