A few days ago, I returned from a three day trip to a summer camp with over 80 Fifth Graders (my eleven year-old son included). The weather was beautiful. The staff was energetic and knowledgeable. And, best of all, no electronic games were allowed!
It's not that I dislike video games or TV. Well, maybe I do. But I have to say that I have good reasons. I have seen first hand the negative effects of video games and too much TV. Lack of creativity and poor motor skills and coordination are just tip of the iceberg. I can tell when my children have been plugged in too long. They get lethargic, grumpy, and restless. Overall, they are not fun to be around. Once they get off their electronic devices and get moving, they begin to perk up. After all, our bodies are meant to move. People are meant to interact with each other. Kids are meant to play pretend and run around outside.
You might think that denying 80 ten and eleven year-olds their electronic entertainment is a risky endeavor. There was a time when I might have agreed with you but no more! On the trip, I didn't hear a single complaint about the lack of video games and TVs. The students had fun running around and playing outside. They jumped, hiked, explored, observed and even zip-lined!
I confess that I had a hard time staying off my phone to check e-mail and facebook! But, after seeing my son out in nature, it occurred to me that maybe I'd underestimated his ability to "unplug". Maybe I've taken the easy way out as a mom and let him plug-in because it was easy for me. Well, it's time to make some changes.
I'm not going to lie and tell you that I'm going to throw out our TV and video games. I'm not that extreme. But I know now that I have to unplug if I want my kids to unplug. I need to set limits for myself as well as for my kids.
So, this summer I am declaring certain days as "unplugged" for myself and my kids. My husband gets a reprieve for work purposes but once he clocks out for the day he'll be a part of my experiment. Who knows? Maybe I'll try an unplugged weekend, then an unplugged week, then a month . . . .?
What do you think? Do you find that you don't know what to do with yourself unless you're near a computer, phone or TV? Does the idea of getting unplugged scare you or thrill you? Do you already declare your own "electronics vacations"? I want to hear from you because Lord knows, I need help!