My love of technology began early. I had an IBM PC Jr. and an Atari 2600. I was in heaven. Between Ghostbusters and Space Invaders I was never lacking in electronic entertainment. I don’t want to brag, but I have almost saved the princess in Super Mario Bros. and almost made it to the final boss in Gauntlet. I can probably almost beat you in Mortal Kombat.
Video games and computers morphed into Kindles and iPads. Combining technology and books? Sign me up. Make it portable? I can’t imagine anything better. Want to buy me a gift? Skip diamonds and jewelry. Buy me a gadget with buttons.
My love of all things electronic trickled down to my children. It started innocently enough with a website called Starfall that teaches kids the alphabet and reading skills. Then we got a Wii and it was downhill from there. When my oldest son was 4 years old, he beat Mario Kart. He finished the final lap of the final race and the credits rolled across the screen. He looked at me and said, “I guess the game gave up.”
A little over a year ago, both my sons got iPad minis.
And Minecraft happened. And YouTube. Technology had them completely in it’s grasp. Being a single working mom at the time, I let them play on the iPads when I had to work at home. Then I started working from home full time and a full blown iPad addiction was born. They couldn’t focus on anything but their games. I let it get way out of hand.
The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that “kids ages 8-18 now spend about seven and half hours per day consuming electronic entertainment. On average, they watch about four hours of television or video, spend two hours playing video games, and surf the internet for over an hour. Because many children often use multiple devices simultaneously, a typical child mayspend a combined total of more than 10 hours daily entertaining themselves with electronics.”
So this summer, we went iPad and electronic free. My kids haven’t touched video game systems or iPads all summer. They haven’t been allowed to watch YouTube videos. Instead they built with Legos, played outside. Invented new ways to play tag and hide-and-seek like Zombie tag and hide-and-seek in the dark. Without flashlights. I even put my own iPad away this summer. I couldn’t go completely technology free because I do have a job, but I did during leisure time.
My kids learned to have an imagination again. They have been much more responsible with household chores, interact more with the rest of the family, made friends with other kids in the neighborhood, and have generally become better people overall.
I would challenge anyone to try putting down technology for a while. Disconnect from gadgets and reconnect with your family and friends. I think you will be pleased with the results.
The iPad free summer
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Lindsey Renuard is a blogger, YouTube beauty expert, and the Managing Editor of the Skiatook Journal.
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