Are your frustrated in your efforts to get your kids away from their electronics?
You probably know that when you children do become unplugged from the entertainment media, they can more easily connect with the real world around them. But unhooking them is not easy to do. Here are some ways to begin:
Be a positive role model. Try not to leave the TV on as a background noise or a distraction. And don’t watch TV yourself just to fill the time. When you watch only a few particular and favorite shows, your kids will better understand the restrictions you set for them.
Include your children in planning which shows they will watch and when. Remind them to limit their screen time to only the specific ones they have chosen. Set the amount of time they can play video games, hand-held or on the TV – perhaps specify days or times for this activity. Make up a chart so they can plan for the week. And have them be accountable by filling in the times they have watched.
Set family rules about what is and is not acceptable in terms of TV and video game usage. Let your kids know that you plan to be consistent in enforcing them. You can even buy a TV/video game time management tool that allows you to implement the time limits you have set with your children.
You may find that, as in any dramatic change, it takes many baby steps to change your kids’ television viewing habits and video game playing. When you feel overwhelmed by the thought of unplugging them and limiting their screen time, remind yourself that it is a process. Celebrate the progress that you are making to create a richer and more interactive environment for your children.
And talk with your children about the advantages they have that other kids may not. Introduce them to the Fresh Air Fund – a non-profit that sponsors free summer experiences in the country and suburbs to inner city boys and girls, ages 6 to 18. Last summer the Volunteer Host Family program called Friendly Town gave close to 5,000 children a chance to enjoy a short summer vacation away from the city.
You may decide to enrich the lives of these children – and your own as well – by supporting the Fresh Air Fund camps or even becoming a host family, if you live near the east coast.