With all the angst I experience watching my youngest shoot people on his T-rated xbox games (it’s just a game, Mom. Sheesh!), I had this ridiculous idea: what if we went electronic free for the summer?
Not electricity free… we could still watch the four crappy stations that we get sporadically on the television. We could still use the lights and hairdryers and such. But what if we gave up on the xbox and World of Warcraft and posting and Twittering? What if we quit texting inane conversations (“So he’s like, “What did she say he said?” “So he goes, “OMG Really?!” “That’s so like stupid LOL.” “JK :-P”), and saved texting for truly important stuff (“movie is dun. pick me up”).
Imagine the time we would have to do fun stuff together! We could go places like the hands on art shop. We could walk the dogs (all four of them) together. We could play board games and work in the yard, and oh yeah… spend lots of time at the neighbor’s pool.
We could visit the library then come home and pile onto the hammock to read. We could create new recipes. We might even have big, family-style sit down breakfasts featuring pancakes and hash browns and sausage. It would be okay to start the day with such a big meal, because we’d have so much more time to go outside and play and work off those calories!
Unplug for the Summer could go viral! I could post it, and if the right back-to-nature, organic, recycling parents spread the word, we could have a nation of kids and parents playing in their yards and hiking nature trails and sitting on curbs licking ice cream cone drips from their wrists.
But right there lies the rub. I could post it. Clearly, the biggest issue in this great idea of mine is that I too would have to unplug… from facebook, twitter and reading blogs. And really, that’s not gonna happen.
I gave up facebooking and twittering for Lent this past spring. I missed my friends. I got behind on current events (Okay, yeah, I’m usually behind on current events, but I got even behinder). I began stretching the rules—Well, I’ll just read a few updates and won’t comment on anything, I reasoned. My 16 year old son gave up social media and the entire internet (except for homework research) and did a much better job than I did.
We won’t be unplugging for the summer at our house. Instead, I think we’ll try to enforce the actual screen time limits that often get mentioned, but never get followed. Jack will get his daily xbox hour. He’ll have an additional hour somewhere… either on the TV or computer. Michael, who is 16, working a part time job and playing football daily, can set his own limits if they are reasonable, though he cannot bring friends to dinner via texting. If he wants to visit them at dinner time, he can just invite them to come eat with us.
Kennedy, who has her own computer (purchased with her own money), tends to lie in her room watching reruns A LOT. We’ll have to enforce some kind of time limit for that, but as with most 13 year old girls, social time will pretty much override the importance of anything else, so I just need to get her to someone’s house.
So if you drive by the house this summer, and notice The Judge and I working in the yard sans kids, rest assured, they are safe in the house, each plugged in to something. Honk your horn and give me a wave, and I’ll send you a tweet when I’m finished.