Mom’s Council Topic: Are We Too Plugged In?

Feel free to comment on this week’s Mom’s Council Topic:

http://herndon.patch.com/articles/moms-talk-qa-hooked-on-electronics

It’s an interesting question to talk about.  I know there are days that I probably spend more time online than I should, or worse just wasting time on things online that are not productive.  I admittedly am a Facebook junkie, but do not have a smartphone, and wonder if I’d be sucked even more as I was out and about if I did have one.  I definitely feel that there needs to be some balance between all things electronic and being unplugged.

I would say I’m definitely guiltier of more online time in the winter months as I don’t have a huge desire to spend a lot of time outdoors when the temperature dips.  As the weather warms, I’m more inclined to get off of my heinie and get some exercise or just enjoy soaking up the sights and smells of being out of the house.

I’m a big believer in family dinner time and very much relish that time with my own family as somewhat sacred. I try to insist that we actually enjoy each other’s company uninterrupted.  There are, of course, exceptions, but as a family, we really try hard to adhere to this unofficial house policy.

My kids also probably have what some may consider too much computer time, and again, especially in the winter months.  My husband is a techie by trade, and by default, is a man of gadgets and all things electronic.  He lives by being wired, and in my opinion, it’s hard to limit that time sometimes with dad as an example.  I know that may sound like a lame excuse, but to me, leading by example is a powerful way to get your kids to do something.  Even if it is inadvertent, such as when you hear your child spit out an unsavory phrase that you may use every now then. Even though it can be tough, I do try and limit their electronic time. If it seems like one or the other child is online too much, I pull them off and make them take a break.

Restricting electronic time has been our go to punishment of late, and an effective one too, to deal with undesired behavior.  But I have to admit, I really like some of the learning that goes along with some of the games that they play. Lego Playstation games get them to think outside of the box and take risks to find solutions.  Roller Coaster Tycoon teaches them a myriad of things–budgeting, reading, project management, creativity, logic, etc. Many of the Wii games get them moving instead of just parking themselves blankly in front of the video screen.  So as much as it might seem like they are blindly wasting time, I don’t think this is always the case.

I was very impressed as I noticed a fellow Facebook friend gave up FB’ing for lent.  I would have had a very hard time doing that myself.  In fact, I started off lent trying to nix anything that was a true time waster online, like playing bejeweled for example.  I couldn’t make it for the duration.  I definitely scaled it back a lot, but, whew is it hard to drop cold turkey.

I do think many things online are huge time and money savers, and I find it hard to not utilize the tools we are given on the internet:  paying bills, checking account balances, finding the weather, reading the news, using e-mail instead of writing a letter, e-vites, comparison shopping, booking travel, library book due reminders.  You know as well as I do that the list is potentially endless.

Could I cut it off cold turkey? More than likely a big, resounding no.  Do I have to cut it off cold turkey?  Probably not.  But I do think we could all benefit a whole lot for making a conscious effort every now and then to unplug and enjoy some of the simpler things in life? Absolutely.  I’ve heard many times over the years that balance is the key to a happier life, and the more I live life, the more I tend to agree.

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