Through my recent blog travels I haven noticed a huge amount of posts with regards to "unplugging" our kids. This, of course, has led me to contemplate my decision to "plug" my kids back in after a few years of being "unplugged".
"Unplugging" is when you remove all electronic stimulation from your child's environment. There are, of course, varying extremes of this phenomenon and every family is different.
TV's, Video Games, Computers or Computer Games, Internet, Loud (I must admit obnoxious) electronic toys are some of the things one might limit to get unplugged.
Growing up I was an only child. I swear I tried to play board games, honestly I did..... mom and dad were always too busy and when they weren't, I was. I even tried playing Monopoly once with my dog...she ate the money. I'm weak, I gave up trying.
I loved (and still do) to read... I read anything I could get my hands on. I loved (not so much anymore) to draw (maybe I should start again.....hmm.....) and I loved my alone time.
I also loved and I mean really loved my Coleco Vision (before Nintendo made Nintendo.. the original Wii for me)...I played Donkey Kong and Mario Bros. oh and Bump N' Jump til' the wee hours of the morning on a regular basis (I told you my parents were busy)... when it came out I got a NES, and then a Super NES (you have to upgrade right?) I never got into the Nintendo 64... not sure why....
Imagine my delight when I met hubby.... he's a "gamer" too. So together we played video games until the wee hours of the morning.... only now it was on the Playstation.
Ok, flash forward...... we had our first little guy (Daxter) and I have pictures of him playing Playstation at 18 months. I even have pictures of Ratchet (10 months or so) playing Soul Caliber with him....
It was always a treat, a family event. Actually, it was hilarious to watch too.
We also watched TV..... Daxter LOVED Blues Clues.. he learned sooooooo much from Steve it's not funny. Yes, I did use the TV as a babysitter at times..... I know, no mother of the year award here.
Daxter was reading at 4 years old, doing math at a grade 1 level ...you name it, he knew it..... all thanks to Steve and Blue. I admit it. He's still a brilliant young fellow ...but of course, I am biased.
Ratchet did not love Blue as much as Daxter...he just kind of hung off his coat tails for a year or so.
Then we moved to a new house......
Not sure why, but we just never hooked up the TV. We stayed that way for 3 years. No withdrawals or breakdowns.... we played a few video games here and there and obviously we watched DVD's as a treat.
We were never big on loud toys.... my boys are loud enough, they don't need toys to compete with.
Halo was born in a TV free house...... it stayed that way until he was around 2.5 years old. Around that time, the local Satellite Company was going door to door offering a "too good to pass up" deal on Satellite TV. We obviously couldn't pass it up right? Gotta love marketing.
Ok, I'll stop for a minute to say that we were never truly an "unplugged" family. I guess you could say we tried the Turn off the TV week and just never turned it back on. We did however have (and still do) severe limitations on when, where, what and how long they can watch/play.
That being said... and back to my original thought....that started waaaaay up above...... I have now been reading all the talk about unplugging our kids and well, I have decided that I like my kids plugged in just fine. Going back to the thought of limiting when, where, what and how long the electronic stimulation takes place.... we are pretty strict, but not completely horrible.
Here's why I have decided that electronics are ok for our kids.
Technology is an amazing thing.
The things my kids can experience, create and learn using the internet, watching a cool DVD or watching the Discovery Channel are truly amazing. They can travel anywhere in the world online. I cannot afford a plane ticket if Daxter wants to visit India, but I pay my high speed internet bill so that he can do the next best thing. India Tourism , Welcome to India and Incredible India should get him started.
The new video game systems promote physical activity (the Wii ) and fine motor skills and hand eye co-ordination (The Nintendo DS).
Our family plays Rock Band together and we have a BLAST! Just good ol' fashioned fun :) Don't tell my kids that they are learning about rhythm and how to keep a beat or improving their dexterity with fine motor skill practice and when I applaud my 6 year for singing his heart out, please don't tell him I have a tear in my eye because at 6 years old he did not miss one word of the lyrics that he had to read off the screen.
My kids are very creative and energetic (I wish I had some of their energy!) kids. They love lego, soccer, drawing and reading (boy do they love reading.... did you know that a good book, or set of books can cost almost as much as a video game?
My kids take music lessons (piano and guitar) and play soccer in the summer and futsal in the winter. They play outside all the time, and man, can they produce some grass stained laundry, so they are either being very active or, very creative..... either way...cool with me.
My kids have chores and gripe and groan every minute that they are doing said chores...but the chores get done before they get plugged in.
I use some computer games (Rosetta Stone... I can't speak Italian, but Daxter is learning to) and some DVD"s (Magic School Bus) to supplement our learning time.
My kids do so many crafts that I had to stop saving all of them and resort to digital picture taking to cherish the memories, save some space, and my sanity.
Speaking of sanity... let's talk about my dependence on my computer and the internet. Come on... I wake up in the morning and the second thing I do is check email and my blog (the first thing I do is kiss my kids and hubby). I use the internet to research learning material for the boys and play a few online games too.... did you know that you can improve your vocabulary, foreign language and multiplication skills here ?
I talk with friends online and through email. I am a chatter box...get me on the phone and you are stuck for over an hour, I swear, it's that bad...really. Using email saves me (and my loved ones and friends) sooooo much time it isn't even funny. In that instance, I am using technology as a courtesy...honestly.
As useful as I find the internet, how can I not teach my kids to use it safely, responsibly and in moderation? It is a very useful tool.
I'm not looking for validation, or looking to tick anyone off (please don't send hate comments..... there's a delete feature and I know how to use it) , or insult anyone or tell anyone what they are doing is wrong. I am just laying my thoughts out on the screen... more or less to let myself know that what we are doing is ok for our family .... it works for our family. It may not be perfect, but really what is?
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