Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Week Without Computers: Not for the faint of heart

"Are you guys hungry? Should we eat now, or wait awhile?" I ask the kids.
"Yeah."
"Yeah what?"
"What?"
"Do you want to eat now or later?"
"Yeah."
"Ooohh kaaay...tacos sound good?"
"Yeah."
"How about ice cream? Should we just have ice cream for dinner?"
"Yeah."
"Kittens? Maybe I should fry up some cute, cuddly baby kittens and serve them with soy sauce. Or mustard. Mustard would be good."
"Yeah..."
                                 Also tasty with ketchup. (Photo credit)

I go into the living room and all three kids are on the sofa, various tablets/computer/phones in hand, the light from the devices casting a sickly light on their zombie-like, expressionless faces.
"Hey, guys? Yoou whooo!"
They look at me, without a trace of recognition in their eyes.

So, I did the one thing I knew would make them hate me forever. Well, they would as soon as they could remember where they'd seen me before.

I took away the internet.

For a week.

This decision was met with a tiny amount of resistance.

                   Like this. Times three.    (Photo credit)

The drama was no less impressive than that of a Spanish soap opera. There was fainting, and moaning, and anguished crying. There was rolling around on the floor, pulling hair, and wailing (and it wasn't me, like it usually is). There was screaming, and fire breathing. (And with time my eyebrows will grow back. Until then, I can use a Sharpie.) I had ruined their life, and they told me that in exactly those words. I wanted to start in with the "When I was your age all I had to play with was poison ivy and roadkill...", conversation, but instead I took the high road and yelled obscenities at them, then took away the items in question.

I slept with my Kevlar vest on, but the next morning the kids were surprisingly...not mad. My oldest actually told me that he thought it was a good idea. Then I promptly locked him in the closet while I searched for the real Nick. And we stuck with it. Almost. 6 days is close enough.

We only had one slip up...about four days in, the boys got up earlier than usual, and since I like to sleep in, I made them take the puppy out and watch him, while my husband and I got a little more time. As long as I could hear them fighting with each other, I knew all was well. But then...it got really quiet. My husband called them...no answer. Got up and searched the usual rooms, nothing. He found them locked in the bathroom, with the dog and the tablet perched precariously on the toilet. Hey, when you need a hit, you need a hit.
Minecraft addicts are looking at that picture, and mentally rearranging the pills to make trees and sheep. (Photo credit)

While I didn't completely give it up, I did cut my computer use in half. My house has never been cleaner. I actually read a few real books. (The Dresden Files...fun reads, by the way.) The kids and I played games at night, and my daughter and I put a few puzzles together. Nick and I drew together, and Sam and I read all about dinosaurs. Over and over. And over. (I know now how to pronounce Quetzalcoatlas.) We don't have TV, but we bonded over reruns of "My Babysitter is a Vampire" on Netflix. We pretended to be zombies. We played Barbies. We tried to teach the dog tricks. Nick wrote a story. Attitudes improved.

I'm definitely implementing a stricter schedule when it comes to computer/tablet/whatever time. It was a worthwhile experiment, and we will do it again. But maybe only a few days at a time, and I'll give the kids more notice, so they have time to mourn properly.





7 comments:

Karen Mortensen said...

Good for you. Glad it went well.

Brian Miller said...

good on you....we have had to do the same on occassion since the boys got tablets for christmas...we also tied computer use to grades...ouch.

denise dunton said...

Love it! My daughter is only 4, so her computer usage is limited to ABCMouse, and pushing buttons on my phone when mommy is trying to "Crush It" on Candy Crush. I think we will also try to keep the usage to a minimum when she gets older, which will probably be kept in order by her father (he is totally anti-technology for her..weird, since he works on computers all day.. actually, that's probably why). Anyways, I love your writing, and I will definitely be stopping by again! #SITSBlogging

Cole Nemeth said...

When I was a teenager, and refused to go to bed on time, all it took was for my dad to disconnect the internet. More then 10 years later and it's still keeping up past bedtime. Only no dad to turn it off! lol, I think it's a great idea to unplug now and then. In our house we've been cutting back on TV time which has drastically increased this winter due to frigid cold temperatures. Now we're trying different ways to amuse our daughter with crafts, board games, reading and going out more.

Dana Miller said...

Good for you! I love taking technology detoxes. Sometimes its so refreshing not to be chained to email and Facebook! #SITSBlogging

raspberriesandrunningshoes said...

That's awesome! The internet is certainly what distracts me. I'm usually pretty good at cutting myself off at a decent time, but every now and then it creeps later and later.

ChiChi Nwizu said...

LOL. This post was hilarious. We all have been there...the power of the internet is super strong! But I'm glad it all worked out. But I would have paid money to see them watching the tablet in the bathroom tho! Stopping by from #SITSBlogging

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