Unplug.

I saw the above billboard last weekend, and I absolutely love it. I didn’t have any success finding it online, but after posting the original blog one of my clients found it for me! (Thank you ;)). The message is a powerful one. I felt a brief pang of sadness that many children these days are so inundated by technology, so much so that some rarely go out and absorb the REAL sights, smells and sounds of the world.

Unplug your child. Limit TV time and video game time. Limit time with anything that plugs in or uses batteries, especially during summer! Less TV, more bike riding. Fewer video games, more splashing. Minimize computer time, maximize outside time. Don’t allow your child to be so absorbed in the artificial, over-stimulating, addicting world of electronics that they miss out on getting dirty and living life-real life- in a tactile way.

Unplug yourself. In family therapy, I have seen a child ask her parent to stop playing on the cell phone so much. Your children need and deserve your undivided attention as much as you can realistically give it. There are enough demands in life that one not need the additional distraction of staring at a handheld device during opportunities for interaction with your child. Additionally, if you are doing this often, you are modeling for your child how to “tune out” of real-time interactions and “plug in” to technology. When I recently expressed surprise to a parent I work with that he didn’t have internet access on his phone, he stated he didn’t want the distraction from his kids. He said he witnesses so many parents on the phone while their kids are talking to them and he didn’t want that same temptation. After this session, I turned off the notification option on my cell phone that alerts me to every incoming email. When I’m not at work, my son deserves a mommy who is not only physically present, but mentally present as well. I want him to feel my presence and my attention as much as possible without getting side-tracked by a “beep” that signals someone else wanting my attention. (Yes, I listen to/learn from my clients as well!)

If you are struggling with electronics addiction at your house (either on behalf of your child, yourself, or both!), begin by setting limits on when and for how long these devices can be used. When you spend time with your children, put your computer and cell phone out of reach. Ignore the phone if you’re in the middle of a conversation with your child. If a text message comes in while your child is telling you a story, wait. Not only are you showing your child respect and consideration, but you are modeling what you expect of them. (They will be teenagers with text messages rolling in soon enough.)

Unplug your family. Have a whole meal without outside interruptions. Play a board game that doesn’t require batteries. Go camping and leave the laptop at home. After all, when’s the last time you or your child touched a real live frog??

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Published in: on August 11, 2011 at 8:52 pm  Comments (2)  
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