Unplugged Kids! Technology everywhere. It was supposed to make our lives easier, make us feel more connected. But when you’ve always dreamed of raising kids the way you were—carefree and in a constant state of movement—technology can make it difficult.
Kids know how to operate tablets and smartphones before they learn how to walk in most cases. Devices have become instant babysitters. They’re easy and convenient. All you have to do is pull your phone out of your back pocket or purse and hand it off. Whoosh! Hours of mindless entertainment for your wee little one. While that may be simple and easy for you now, before long, that same child you handed your devices to wants bigger and better and more mind-numbing fun. Soon, instead of playing outside, climbing in trees, or learning to ride a bike, they’re behind closed doors, eyes glued to a screen and near-comatose because of their new gadgets.
I experienced that self-induced phenomenon in my own house, craved minimalism and wanted a happy, carefree environment that was free of the pressures of most modern-day demands. I wanted to bake from scratch, sew our clothes and spend as much time as possible away from devices. Then, reality set in. The kids went to school and technology played a major role in their learning experience. They were in front of devices in school. Yikes!
We were a busy bunch. With work commitments and extra-curricular activities taking up so much of our time, I resorted to letting technology keep the kids occupied while I rushed to get everything done in time for the next activity. It drained our energy and created a disconnect us. I had to find a way to get our priorities straight.
True minimalism was the answer. It can help you get your kids out of the technology time suck and back to real, meaningful life.
- Think hard about what your family values are. What really matters to you? Once you nail those down, you can build from there.
- Decide how and when you’re going to eliminate the use of technology. No devices at the dinner table? No devices after 7 PM? You make the rules and stick to them.
- Plan for a screen-free hour, evening, day, weekend, then week. Baby steps will get you to where you want to be.
- Follow a routine. Studies show that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. Start the countdown now and soon; being device-free will be like second nature.
- Set yourself up for success. Have designated spots to keep the devices (not the bedrooms). Set ground rules, make contracts, know your schedules. Obviously, if the kids need devices for homework, they should be allowed to use them but only during that dedicated time.
- Be present. All the adults should follow the rules you give to the kids in the house.
- Get your kids involved in the decision making. They’ll be more receptive to change if they’re part of the process.