Why I am unplugging my kids from technology

February 28, 2013

in Inspirational, Life On The Farm, musings from my somewhat sane mind, Parenting

Boy Playing a Video Game

It was a nice afternoon inside the house. My six year old kids rotated playing with Lego’s, dolls, coloring in their coloring books, and watching kid shows on Netflix. It was chilly and damp outside with enough wind to make staying in, a welcome and cozy activity.

“Mama, can I play a video game?” one of my boys asked. “I guess so”, I replied. “You’ll have to take turns, though, and not argue.”  “Ok!!” they excitedly agreed.

It started out fine. I have learned, though, that this mature, polite, mannerism is just temporary.  What follows,  just 30 minutes later, is a child who is frustrated, emotional, and sometimes even angry. And what causes this behavior is the simple statement from me that it’s time to turn off the game, OR it’s time for someone else to have a turn.

The thing is, my boys are sweet, loving, caring, and a joy to be around. All of their exceptional attributes are compromised, though, when playing video games.  It’s hard for me to let a game system emotionally change my child. As parents we do not want our kids to be sad, hurt, or angry. And yet I have found that the thing I am presenting to them is causing just that.

So we are unplugging our children.

In place of the video games, they will color, cut, and use glue. In place of the games, they will build a fort out of Lego’s. They will ride bikes outside even when it is cold and they have to wear coats and gloves. They will get skinned knees, scratched elbows, and dirty faces. They will help with our outside chores and inside chores.

Instead of being sucked into a virtual world of animation that is controlled with their thumbs, they will start living in a real world controlled by their physical movements and mental thoughts. Instead of destroying a moving graphic, they will go destroy their rooms leaving a trail of mixed matched toy pieces in their wake, and then they will learn responsibility to clean up the mess. And I guarantee they will learn more about being creative and problem solving than they ever will fighting some green, slimy, virtual monster.

And sure, sometimes I second guess my feelings.  “Just lighten up –  it’s all good with moderation!”  I’ll scold myself.  But for us, these games do nothing but offer 30 minutes of happiness followed by the aftermath of sadness.

Is it their age? Absolutely. When they get older, will they be able to enjoy these games? I would say, probably?  But for now we have banned the games, in our home at least, for a long while.  Because they just can’t handle it. There will always be exceptions to the rule, but I’m taking the stand that not all modern things are good for our kids.  Just because someone makes a toy, it doesn’t mean it’s OK.

If you have young children and are faced with these issues, how do you handle it?


Karen Hug-Nagy February 28, 2013 at 9:29 pm

Wow, I know what you’re talking about! Ben and Jen are 13 and I see a huge change in their attitudes when they are playing Minecraft on their computers. I’ve watched them go from happy to frustrated to screaming! So I limit the time they spend on that game. Sounds like you’re doing the right thing. I wish my kids would go outside and get some exercise. But now that they get up at 6 am for middle school, they are so tired when they get home, plus it’s STILL Winter here in MO.

Deb March 1, 2013 at 8:19 am

I think it is much easier to get younger kids to go out and play. My older kids hit those teenage years and they didn’t find it thrilling to go outside either. I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts. lol
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Susan Cooper (@SusanPCooper) February 28, 2013 at 9:41 pm

Why I am unplugging my kids from technology http://t.co/ma5gMRKNlU via @WrinkledMommy

Kristi February 28, 2013 at 9:50 pm

Kudos to you! My kids are mostly all grown (youngest turns 17 soon), but I’m a big believer in limiting screen time (and monitoring the content). One product I found that helped eliminate TV arguments was this one: http://www.familysafemedia.com/tv_timer_hopscotch_bob.html

I don’t have any affiliation with the company; I just found their product to be helpful.

Deb March 1, 2013 at 8:19 am

Thanks for the link Kristi. I will check it out. :)
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Dawn Lantero February 28, 2013 at 10:30 pm

I applaud your thoughtful decision. I teach preschool and strongly feel some of my students could benefit from a move like this by their parents. Some of my little boys can talk of nothing else. So sad. At least they get glue and paint playdough at preschool.

Deb March 1, 2013 at 8:22 am

Thanks Dawn. It’s scary how much kids now-a-days are wrapped up (even addicted) to this type play.
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@Dawnlantero February 28, 2013 at 10:31 pm
Sunithi Selvaraj, RD (@ssunithi) February 28, 2013 at 11:57 pm

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Taylor Gilmore (@MsTaylorGilmore) March 1, 2013 at 3:29 am

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In Lieu of Preschool (@NLieuOPreschool) March 1, 2013 at 8:15 am

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K.A.Bodanis (@DadsWorkHard) March 1, 2013 at 10:10 am

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Margaret (Meg) Milos March 1, 2013 at 12:25 pm

I think you have a wonderful idea going there! You would be surprised at how many kids will give you a blank look when you say something like: go outside and play. They come back with: there’s nothing to do outside. It’s boring outside. What do we play with, what do we play, and who is going to show me? In otherwords, who is going to keep me entertained because that is what they are used to! I drive a school bus, and one particular day all the kids were just in a bad mood. I told them I was giving them some homework. Boy that got their attention! I told them they all had to go outside and play for at least 30 minutes! And I meant it! All the above is what I got back. I had several that wanted to know if I would be picking them up to take them to the park :( It’s a shame that children can’t entertain themselves outside by themselves for 30 minutes! Alot of parents use video games and t.v. as baby sitters.

Deb March 1, 2013 at 10:13 pm

so true! It’s so different ( and not in a good way ) in our present age. When I was a kid we played outside using our imagination. Whatever we could find, we made a way to play with it. Whatever happened to Tag, and Kick Ball. Or Red Rover Red Rover? lol
I think today’s kids are really missing out on good memories.
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Anonymous March 1, 2013 at 11:03 pm

I agree! I grew up on a country farm where a tobacco stick became the fastest horse around! Tobacco twine was the reins. My Dad showed us how to make his favorite toy as a boy, a corn cob, 3 chicken feathers (that you found on the ground-I learned that one the hard way!) and ask Grandpa for a 6 penny nail. At the thickest end of the cob, stick in the quills with the feather ends pointing outward, the other end of the cob got the nail, throw it up as high as you can, instant whirli-cob! Poor ole Grandpa would have to go get more nails though because we would make as many as the feathers we could find and there were bunches!
We would play roller bat. Remember Red-Rosie and Hot Potatoe?
Give a kid a paper plate, a pencil and scissors, we had a steering wheel and drove around the world! Yep, they were the good ole days!
I would love to see kids playing in mud today. Make mud pies, yummie! Or squishing the mud between your toes in a warm, watery mud hole. Just to see them lay on the grass, look up at the sky, see the clouds and figure what images they can see by the shapes. It IS really SAD to watch their childhood just disappear into today’s technology.

Meg Milos March 1, 2013 at 11:05 pm

Sorry, Anonymous is me, Meg.

@voiceBoks_ March 1, 2013 at 1:59 pm

Check out why @WrinkledMommy is unplugging her kids from technology http://t.co/vXsOlBQ9cs

Audrey March 1, 2013 at 4:45 pm

LOVE this post. Great idea. I hate video games. I truly believe they are borderline evil, lol, as crazy as that sounds. They are addictive and make your real life seem like nothingness, which robs people of their meaning and leaves them empty and struggling to adapt. Hate them, hate them, hate them. EXCEPT THE SIMS IN MODERATION…dang that game is fun. Heheheh. Love you ma!

Deb March 1, 2013 at 10:14 pm

thanks babe!
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@everseekingmom March 1, 2013 at 8:03 pm

“@NLieuOPreschool: Why I am unplugging my kids from technology http://t.co/Osu7VJ7f9P via @WrinkledMommy” A must read! @Denzil3d

Tracey March 1, 2013 at 8:35 pm

I know exactly what you mean! The boys’ personality changes for the worst when they have played video games. They are cranky, grumpy, rude, nasty, weepy, and angry! We let the boys play only on the weekends and even then it is for a limited time because the attitude is AWFUL afterward!
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Deb March 1, 2013 at 10:16 pm

It’s so weird how video games has this affect on kids. It’s actually more scary than weird.
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Mommas Meals (@MommasMeals) March 2, 2013 at 2:20 am

Why I am unplugging my kids from technology http://t.co/Q2i8wzmosS via @WrinkledMommy

Janine Huldie March 2, 2013 at 7:08 am

My girls are still pretty young, but I do see this even when they have to stop playing and go to bed. They get upset and frustrated, but thanks for letting me in on that this may be there fate if and when video games do come into play. I will try to remember to limit it or ban completely if that is the case.

Janine March 2, 2013 at 8:31 am

Thanks Janine. I think it is important to start out with limitations. Maybe if I had done that, things could have been better. I pretty much let them play whenever they wanted instead of a rule of 30 minutes, or whatever, a day. In other words I didn’t condition them to the rules when they were first introduced to these type games. It may have changed the way things turned out.
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Melissa Lopez Reyes (@MizMeliz) March 2, 2013 at 9:03 am

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Deb Chitwood (@DebChitwood) March 2, 2013 at 10:54 am

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Sarah (@SarahSimplyMe) March 2, 2013 at 10:47 pm

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Sarah March 3, 2013 at 8:55 am

We didn’t have video games in our home until my uncle bought us a game system. I think we(my brother and I) were around 10 or 11. We didn’t play too much though. Living in the Colorado Rockies made outside play rather fun. When we got older my mom made my brother and I time charts. We only had a certain number of hours a week to play video games,watch TV or movies. Any electrical entertainment basically fell into the time chart. So if we wanted to use up our few hours on movies we could, but then we couldn’t play video games that week. My brother and I would just save it up for maybe a Saturday while the rest of the time we would play outside or do puzzles and such. :) Its something I’ll probably do with my kids when they are old enough to understand it.
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Sharon (@crazykids6) March 4, 2013 at 9:18 am

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@everseekingmom March 4, 2013 at 11:21 am

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Kate hall March 6, 2013 at 12:42 pm

Man, I find the same thing with my 8 yo. He’s so excited to play, but then, usually, if he doesn’t do as well as he expects in the game, he gets so mad (I used to do the same thing as a kid – ok, maybe as an adult too). We only allow our sons to play for one hour on the weekends WITH my husband – they usually play Angry Birds. But, occasionally, I will let my sons play some educational apps on my iPad. But then we have the issue of “it’s time to finish up” and it’s followed by whining and complaining and frustration. But then we have that with the TV too. Ugh. You know, now that I think about it, before my husband and I were married, we used to play video games together. I would get so mad and frustrated because he beat me all the time, so much so, that I quit playing against him. It was just too much for me to handle. Boy that sounds immature…but I guess at least I knew to stop playing.
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Ginger Kay March 12, 2013 at 11:50 am

You’re making an unpopular choice, but the right one, in my opinion. When my children were younger, playing video games always led to crankiness and irritability and sniping at each other. They were much happier playing with their legos and action figures, or running around outside with their light sabers and blasters.
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Lisa March 12, 2013 at 12:03 pm

I see the moods change too. I have to gently remind them that it’s a game, not reality, and that it is time to shut it off and go do something else. Fortunately we have a neighborhood where there are lots of kids playing outside all the time, so going outside is usually a more attractive option for them anyway. Good for you for completely unplugging!
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Jhanis September 29, 2014 at 5:54 am

I’m gonna challenge myself to unplug the kids (and myself!) this weekend. It’s the only time they are allowed to use the laptop or tab but maybe we can alternate it with crafting and other stuff.
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Carin Kilby Clark September 29, 2014 at 12:53 pm

I applaud you for making a tough decision and doing what you feel is best. It’s so easy to let kids run rampant with technology but they don’t always know the best way to handle this responsibility. Great post, thanks for sharing.
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Meredith September 29, 2014 at 6:08 pm

I’ve struggled with this myself. I do see a difference too on the days that they don’t play with video games. We’ve narrowed it down to a strict 30 minute limit, but I’ve noticed the TV time is getting way out of control. It’s amazing how easily they adapt and play if you just turn it off. Great post!
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Chris Carter November 7, 2014 at 9:11 pm

GOOD FOR YOU MAMA!!!!! I haven’t completely stopped- but I make sure I set some serious limits- my kids are bit older, and if they start to ‘have at it’ with each other- it’s OFF.
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