I have a love/hate relationship with technology. Social media, cell phones, texting — we have instant access to each other 24 hours a day. We tend to log in and tune out.
Canadians spend more time online than any other country. This can mean that every member of a family is online on their own device, even in the same room. I just emailed this shocking fact to my husband sitting across from me on the couch.
Many parents have expressed concern about technology’s intrusion into their family time. I feel it. Do you?
I grew up pre-internet, so I learned how to maintain a conversation and can easily make human contact without being digitally connected. But can I say the same about my children?
Even if we limit our kids’ screen time, their learning and social skills are still impacted by OUR screen time. Have you ever shushed your child so you could finish composing an email? Have you looked away during your child’s soccer game to post an Instagram photo? Have you texted from the dinner table in the middle of your son telling you about his French test? Not proud of it, but I’ve done all of these and more.
Since I make my living mostly online, I’m can’t give it up, but I’m aware of the need to balance technology with dedicated “unplugged” family time. Like many parents, I’m struggling with this and need to make this a priority — not just blogging about it, but actually doing it on a daily basis.
Hiding in the bathroom to check my email is not the same as tuning into my family.
This summer we’re going to try to be unplugged as often as possible. Instead of iPad games, we plan to enjoy tech-free activities like reading, board games, volunteering, outdoor play, canoeing, or whatever strikes our fancy.
Some of the offline activities we hope to enjoy include:
1. NATURE WALKS
Chatting, collecting rocks and leaves, looking for bugs and enjoying nature.
2. BOARD GAMES
Head Bandz is a game the whole family can play together.
3. PUPPET SHOWS
The kids do the show, the parents watch and heckle from the audience.
4. MAKING UP SKITS
My kids could do this ALL day. Sometimes they do and I film them (Yes, this involves technology, but it’s in the name of art). Then we watch the movies together later with popcorn. The movie below is about the Zombies in our yard. It’s “frightening”…. in the most hilarious way.
5. ACTIVE GAMES
Lawn darts (yes, the “safe” ones), croquet, basketball in the drive-way, Four Square, Hopscotch and running through obstacle courses the kids set up.
6. GETTING MUSICAL
My son and I are both learning guitar. He can play all kinds of pop songs. I can (almost) play Mary Had a Little Lamb.
7. OUTDOOR WATER FUN
The kiddie pool, water squirters, water balloons, the hose. The wetter the better.
8. Rainy Day? BUILD A FORT or PLAY INDOOR HIDE AND SEEK
Full disclosure… I sent a text while the kids were hiding. I am weak and I am ashamed.
9. BIRD WATCHING
Exactly like the Nature Walk but with binoculars and our necks “craned” upwards. Pun intended.
I’m sure our neighbours get a laugh watching the Thornburys race like mad (winded) people across the park, but it’s something we do. THIS is an example of how ridiculous it looks. And yes, I did push my son down onto the grass in order to have a better chance of winning. But to be fair, I pushed my daughter down too. 🙂
*Originally Posted on ymc.ca