Only the third week into summer-break and I’m finding myself either in full-out war or in deep negotiations with my two oldest over screen time. If I let them, they would forget to eat, sleep or shower. I’m still adjusting to being the mom of teenagers but I can most definitely confirm that they do not ‘play’, ‘hang out’ or enjoy summer the way I used to. They don’t even use the telephone! I have so many great memories of summer; biking to the pool or to get ice cream with friends and organizing impromptu get-togethers at a friends house. Good social skills are important and you learn them from being in social settings–can you grasp them adequately through wireless Internet and a touch screen?
Laptops, e-readers, iPods, smartphones, X-Box Live and of course you can’t forget the old-fashion TV make it so that, no matter what they are doing, who they are with or where they are, there is a screen for that!
When I speak to my fellow mom friends, they all complain of the same thing and none of us have come up with a mind-blowing solution. This is what fun is today. Even if I confiscated everything except the toaster it still would not force my sons to become social in the way that I used to, because all of their friends will still be locked away in their own homes tweeting, texting, facebooking, chatting or gaming.
In fact, forget teens. Even little kids are in training. My nine-year-old was definitely not the first in her class to get an iPod. She can FaceTime or text her friends in Pennsylvania or down the street with a touch of a button.
To be honest, we can’t really blame them since we (adults) help perpetuate it. We hide behind the fact that all of this technology is required for our jobs but you don’t want to know how many times I checked my personal email, gossiped via text with my girlfriend or snuck onto Facebook today. Let’s face it–it’s not our kids who are paying the monthly internet bills, buying the 56-inch flat screens and most likely it was an adult who gifted that game console.
Still, I haven’t completely given in. This is my three-step battle plan:
One: I contacted Bell and suspended our television service for the next two months (which for some reason is going to cost me $15/month for the privilege of no service!?).
Two: Whenever chores don’t get done or I notice they can’t police themselves into stopping long enough to eat or bathe, I unplug the internet. This turns every one of their devices into nothing more than a calculator or fancy typewriter. Within seconds they stumble out from their rooms, squinting from the rays of sunlight beaming into the house. Once disconnected, fed and hydrated they seem a little more open to the idea of jumping on a bicycle and getting some fresh air.
Three: A couple of weeks ago the boys made up Two Brothers Landscaping fliers and handed them out to the neighbours. They have since scored several jobs weeding and mowing. It not only forces them to learn some kind of responsibility and make a little cash but also get some much-needed vitamin D.
How are you dealing with this issue in your family? Let us know on the Hudson/St. Lazare Gazette Facebook page
The Hudson St-Lazare Gazette – August 15 2012 – Julie Cadieux