Unplugged…Not by Choice

We often talk about taking breaks from technology but truthfully…we rarely do it.  My son is on the Ipad, while I am getting my classroom ready.  When I think of a phrase or an idea to share on the blog, I type it into my phone.  It has become part of our daily life…good or bad…it just is there.

Last weekend, we had a discipline issue and the fact that we are “technology dependent” really helped!  In order to earn back any screen time due to behavior choices, my son needed to complete a list of 10 things before returning to the Ipad, laptop or Nintendo DS.  Most of the listed items were chores & school work, but others were experiences that should be taking place more in our home.  As expected, there was some complaining and “breaks” to recover from “all the hard work that seems unreasonable that I have to do when I am tired and frustrated.”

A couple of things happened because of this experience…

First, my son realized that we mean what we say.  If we expect him to stick to his word (and we do), it only makes sense that we do the same.  Since this conversation, I have noticed that I’m not always as precise with my words as I thought.  I often say, “break in 10 minutes” but if there were 20 minutes left in my show…I might let it slide.

Second, we are going through this “thing” where we try and explain that an apology doesn’t automatically mean that things are forgiven.  I continue to explain that sometimes when damage has been done, a “sorry” isn’t enough.   Especially when it is about an incident that happens repeatedly.  My natural negotiator responds with…”If an apology isn’t enough…than I won’t bother doing it at all.”  Obviously this is not the answer, so we continue to discuss the impact of our actions.

Third, even if he doesn’t like to admit it…he enjoyed having more time to do other things.  During a car ride, he settled on reading a book instead of using the Ipad.  It had been years since there was SO much quiet in the car and I realized that I missed it!  It was great to see him reading and stopping and sharing interesting information.

During the summer, it has been hard to have a strict limits on screen time.  This is especially true since my boy gets up at 6:30 am and goes to bed at 8:30 pm and it makes for a really long day.  However, the school year is quickly approaching and I feel like we must transition to a more appropriate amount that will allow for school, homework, recovery time & family time.

The technology that my son depends on is educational and motivating.   It moves at a fast pace and keeps him challenged.  However, there is a whole world out there and the need for him to “deal with” people is a skill that he needs to practice like others practice math skills.   How do technology limits work in your house?  Text or email me your thoughts 🙂

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11 thoughts on “Unplugged…Not by Choice

  1. Losing iPad and computer time seems to be among the few things my son cares about when it comes to discipline. So, like you, it really benefits us in that way that we are technology dependent.

    We are also trying to have our son understand that an apology does not undo all the damage and take away the discipline. It is really hard, as just when you think things have calmed, they can escalate again when he realizes that he still won’t get to use the iPad even after he apologized. Sigh.

    It is funny, though, that once he gets used to not having the technology, he does find other things to do and he is often very engaged by the book, art, or whatever he ends up doing. It makes me think we need to limit the technology even more than we do.

    • Yuji-I know the escalating that you talk about! I know how important it is to be consistent, but sometimes the ramping up again is exhausting! My son was “reintroduced” to a grossology book when the technology was taken away and I could tell he really enjoyed it!

  2. After years of frustration and many different “plans” we have started limiting Ipod time to 30 minutes a day. He just becomes too impatient, impulsive and mean. After a while he gets used to it and finds a million other things to do. He is kind and fun to talk to. Sometimes he even admits that electronics makes him crazy and feels out of control. With good behavior and three days in a row of following his chart (made by the OT/PT) he can earn extra time on the Ipod. This chart is new and he hasn’t been able to earn the extra time as of today.

  3. I was raised with no limits on TV time (I’m old enough that this was before home computers), and could see even then that my friends who had limits tended to be crazy about getting TV time in a way I never was (and I was a real TV addict from a very young age). So I grew up determined to let my kid have no limits. (Further note: my own love of TV led me to a career as a video producer, and my husband’s similar early love of computers led to a career as a programmer – so both of us have always understood the potential value of youthful obsessions with electronic media.)

    But then it turned out that my kid was different from any I ever knew, and would never ever reach a point when “enough” was “enough.”

    So we started out with a pretty generous limit of 3 hours a day. And when that still led to craziness, we went down to an hour and a half a day. And when that didn’t work, we went down to an hour a day, with opportunities to earn a bit more through the completion of household chores. That eventually got out of hand, too, however, because he would beg for ever more “chores” to do to earn more time, and then rush through them haphazardly to get his time…and then completely melt down if we tried to enforce quality standards on the chores or to limit the number of chores/time-earning opportunities.

    So now we’re down to a strict hour a day, with no opportunities for expansion. Seems better for the moment (though we have good days and bad days), but I’m afraid the day may be coming when we have to restrict it to weekends, or eliminate it entirely. Scary thought, since it’s something he loves so much, and which really does teach him a lot.

    • I think that it is great when families find what works for them. What I am learning is that a process or routine should have enough flexibility that it can be examined to see if it still works. In our home, this is hard but necessary. The switch from summer to the school year brings new restrictions and we are already seeing some pushing back because of it.
      Initially this transition time will be rough and we will need to work on a balance that the family feels will be successful…at least for the time.

  4. Sorry to take up so much space, but I also wanted to comment on this thought: “It moves at a fast pace and keeps him challenged.”

    We’ve always had the same issues you describe about diving in vs. following directions – and I probably could have written exactly what you said in your “creative thinking” post about Lego assemblies and Snap Circuits (which we also have and enjoy).

    A few days ago, I asked my son what it was about computer games that he finds so much more compelling than anything else in his world. And after thinking about it for a minute, he said that it’s because “they’re always different.” For example, he loves reading, but a book’s story is the same every time you pick it up. Same with a favorite TV show or movie. But a computer game – especially his beloved Minecraft – is ever-changing, and thus ever-challenging.

    And I realized just how important that probably is to him. He, too, is definitely an out-of-the-box thinker, who doesn’t like to follow established patterns. This has often been frustrating for me, because I’m very linear — I like to learn basic concepts and rules first, and then figure out how to deviate from them. He doesn’t give a whit about such things.

    For example, he’s been in love with trains since he was two (he’s nine now, and still loves them). And we have accumulated large masses of several kinds of train sets. But while I like to build connected loops of various complexities, and watch the trains run continuously around the loops, he builds all sorts of long squiggly lines, that tend to run from one point to another throughout the house, but not loop back.

    For a long time, I wondered whether he just didn’t know how to build closed loops (after all, isn’t that how toy trains are supposed to run?), and wondered if he was just having a hard time figuring it out…but then I realized that his assemblies really are more like real-life train routes – the tracks actually go someplace, with odd short spurs jutting off the main lines, and return journeys usually take place in reverse, not in a loop.

    So I think he’s got it right after all, and I should pay more attention to his creative processes, which open-ended computer games do seem to support in some way.

    • Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments! I believe this type of sharing is so beneficial in the continued discussions about our children! You really hit something when you talked about the book being the same! My son feels the same way! He also doesn’t want to read a book about a movie that we have seen (or vice versa) because he says, “what’s the point? I know the story already.”

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