Tips for Keeping Your Child Unplugged

Unplugging your child requires your intervention and the child’s cooperation. Here are some tips for both parents and children to stay “unplugged” in the high-tech age:

Fewer Temptations

A stack of the iPods I now own... included are...

Remove the temptation entirely. I am not advocating tossing out the television, but children should not be plugged into the iPod, Blackberry, television, game console or PC every waking moment of every day. Limit the number of devices you purchase for your children. Ask them if given the choice between a video game or an iPod, which would they choose.

Limit the usage.

Technology comes only after homework and/or housework. During the summer, 47 hours of television can be crammed into a parent’s 10 hour workday. If the chore chart looms large before the television may be turned on, housework will be done.

Set a schedule.

Only One Hour

Employ your children to help you with this. After school they may have one techno-hour. Let them decide which devices they would like on which days. Hand them a TV guide to help. During the summer, techno-hours (2-3) may be spent after such activities as sports, yard work, jobs and visiting friends (to do something other than watch television). Assist in the endeavor as well: Agree to download music or games for them, so that they can maximize their techno-time.

Eat a balanced meal.

Balanced Meal

No techno-time may be spent with any food or drink involved. No soda by the computer. No chips with the iPod. No text messaging during dinner. Separation of activities will help develop communication skills being lost to the text-message generation. Even the squarest parents could learn a few things during a conversation with a teenager.

Investigate opportunity.

Every community has activities for teens and tweens for the summer and after school. Let them do some research on the computer to find out about things that may interest them. If they come up empty, have them volunteer at a food bank, soup kitchen or nursing home. These activities build character and appreciation.

Take in a show.

No, don’t trade the small screen for a big screen. See something live. Go to a ballet, symphony performance, classical concert or opera. Take a night out to go to a theater production or a musical. See an exhibit at an art gallery or a natural history museum.

Take a class.

Hobby classes are common during the summer. Kids don’t have to go to the bingo hall with the blue-haired crowd, but they can enjoy ceramics, painting, sculpting or graphic design. Choose a class that will help them determine what career path they would like to travel.

Just say no.

If you child lacks the self-discipline necessary to adhere to the rules, pull the plug. Password the computer or install a computer nanny. Take the power cord to the game console, and put it in your sock drawer. Lose the jumper between the satellite box and the television. (Ant races get very boring.)

Bottom Line

One way or the other, parents need to keep children unplugged, but not necessarily in a technological vacuum. Remember, the key is everything in moderation.


(c) Ann Marie Dwyer 2011
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  1. Yes I agree with you that the the key is to
    have everything in moderation, well mostly
    anyway 🙂

    Have a lovely rest of evening Red 🙂

    Androgoth XXx

  2. I just hope that I don’t lose any time on my PS3 Red 🙂

    Androgoth XXx

  3. um, my kid is playing educational games on the computer and the video games are good for coordination…… I have to unplug her?? she works so hard…………and I need quiet time too…… it inappropriate to leave your kid unattended so you can nap??

    • LOL! No, educational games are a must. Especially when all they play is educational (Mean Momma only buys educational games). Video babysitter for naps is appropriate over age 12 ;P

      • the short blonde kid would never want to leave your house, she begs for educational games. The hardest part is when she tantrums for them and that means the poor thing can’t have them at all or she just confirmed she’s in charge….12 really?? that’s a long time, wonder if she’ll volunteer to start napping again……not likely she might miss something.

        • Stranger things have happened. Growth spurt here (regular occurrence) is mandating naps everyday. I cannot deal with the gritchiness otherwise. Just remember, nap means bedtime is delayed. You need to budget your time for sleep early or late. You know the rule of sleep when the baby sleeps 😉 Red

  4. Good idea Red, but you’d be amazed at the number of people who leave their kids watching TV as a nanny service to keep them out of their hair.

    Parents need training – nobody is BORN a skilled parent – so your rules would help the adults as much as the children…

    God Bless and Merry Christmas!


    • You know, Pren, it does not surprise me; it disgusts me. With the massive amount of information available, I see no excuse why parents feel the need to reinvent the wheel and complain about the R&D. But that is strong sentiment this merry season. Happy Christmas, Prenin! Red.

  5. The reason kids are so plugged in is because it takes effort from the parents to get them to do something else. I don’t want to go outside in the cold all the time but I do because most of the time there is no one else out there to play with. So I am quarterback, pitcher, NASCAR pit stop whatever…I have my flaws (LOTS) but my kids definitely get outside a lot and are relatively unplugged.

    • That is great! I know quite a few parents like you who are the wing, first baseman and tailback all in the same afternoon. Even if you only substitute one half hour per day, you are doing your children a world of good…psychologically, physically, educationally and emotionally. Good on you! Red.

  6. My older granddaughters (10 and 8) just got MP3s for birthdays. I am anticipating having to shut them down when they visit. I sure wish their parents would regulate them, but…. The only good thing is that it’s possible the 8 yo will not want to talk 24/7 if she’s listening to music:)

    Technological babysitters probably depend more on maturity than age. We put out cereal with a glass of milk in the refrigerator for the 10 yo in the am because she is a morning person and no one else is. She eats and watches some cartoons till the rest of us get up. I’m guessing her brother would never be able to do that no matter how old he gets:) Kids do miss out on so much having their noses stuck in tv or video games or computers… for hours and not playing outside with their friends.

    I often quip to my Sunday School Class of 7th, 8th, 9th graders that when I was there age, computers were only in colleges… and took up whole rooms, my phone was plugged in to the wall and didn’t have messaging, call waiting, or caller ID. I played outside by the light of street lights and got my music from a little radio. They have no concept of a life without all those things we now take for granted and consider ‘necessities’. It’s a new world, but the rules should still be the same. Parents need to be parents – PERIOD. Thanks again for another great post.

    • I know. My children are convinced I was conceived in the Bronze Age. (My mother is from the Stone Age.) The 8 and 10 are plenty old enough for you to do your Monty Hall impression. Although, for me, by that age, mine understood not here and not now. It is harder when their parents do not uphold the same value on their time. Red.

  7. The is the BEST! My kids have extremely limited access to technology and the closest thing they get to a ‘hand-held device’ is my Nook so they can read their stories on my “patutor” (as graciously stated by my 3 year-old). They get maybe an hour of TV about 4 days a week and 1 movie for Family Sunday Movies and that is basically all the technology they get. My friends think I’m weird that I don’t let the kids play on a computer or watch TV…but, really..why waste your imagination as a kid when we have plenty of time to waste if as adults!

    • Absolutely nothing wrong with your approach. My little ones get zero broadcast television. They watch from discs only. My daughter, though, is less interested in the shows as she is the production notes and the interviews of the cast. She is an animator at heart and in practice.

      Keep fostering that imagination. And play in the rain every once in a while 😉 Red.

  8. Excellent thoughts that every parent of this new “plugged-in” generation should take heed in their approach to raising their kids. I coach basketball as an avocation – been doing it for 26 years now. Most coaches lament how kids nowadays don’t seem to be motivated to go outdoors and just play pick-up games among themselves. I like a lot of your solutions. Another one that springs to mind is to just shut off the danged air-conditioning! That might motivate them to get off their duffs and go outdoors exploring, creating, and making their own fun, and actually interacting with real live friends in real time…

    All kidding aside, children do need the adults to set limits and allow them opportunities to be creative within some kind of structure. Complete freedom and lack of discipline does them more harm than good in the long run.

    • I will always advocate schedule. My autistic children absolutely must have it or our world would be a bad place. Somewhere along the way, all of the children benefited from schedules which necessarily required “get out of the house!” (tone and inflection based on mood-du-moment) The endorphin rush of being outside was good for them all…and me, too.

      Good on you with the coaching.

  9. Great advice and I wish they were more unplugged. Of course, how can I talk…..they are getting laptops for christmas. Bad mommy!

    • LOL! Stuff them with educational games. It is a fair trade off 😉 And just limit their times. Organize something else to do. You can do it!

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