Do you have a hard time unplugging from your screen? How about your kids? Like most families, I struggle with technology and trying to figure out, “When is too much?”. Whether it’s the TV, computer, iPad, iPhone or other electronic device, they can all take time away from the present moment. As a blogger, I can admit to loving my screen and enjoy being on the computer like most other people. However, when is it considered too much screen time and how does this affect our children?
I loved this book, Unplugged: Ella Gets Her Family Back by Laura Pedersen because it describes a situation that can occur in many homes with regard to technology. The book begins with Ella beginning her day with excitement over an upcoming breakfast with her family. Her mother told her that she would be making blueberry waffles that morning and Ella couldn’t wait. She races downstairs but instead of the blueberry waffles, she finds her mother and father on separate computers, her brother playing a video game, and her sister texting with a friend with no waffles in sight. Ella is disappointed and feels betrayed by all of the screens and her family’s lack of attention towards her and each other. She remembers the time that her family would sit down and eat together as a family. Instead, every member of her family was only focused on their screens. What does Ella do? She decides to collect all of the chargers and accessories for the electronic devices with a note saying “Talk To Ella”. When her family members come home and can’t find their chargers, they race to Ella questioning what is going on. When her family thought that Ella was jealous because she wanted her own phone, she responded “I don’t want a phone yet. I just want my family back. I want things to be like they were before you all got plugged in”. The next morning her family put their screens away and ate breakfast together. They decided to make two times during the week that were considered “unplugged” times.
Unplugged: Ella Gets Her Family Back sends a powerful message to children and adults. Growing up, my own screens were limited to a Commodore 64 and a Nintendo with limited games. Now, there is an endless amount of games on a variety of screens that can be not only be engaging and entertaining but addicting for many. From my perspective, I find that an overabundance of electronic devices can not only be distracting for children, but just as distracting for adults. As adults, it’s important to self monitor your own screen time to staying focused on the present time, versus constantly checking email, Facebook, etc. If we don’t set this example, how do we except our children to be any different?
What is the solution? I love the suggestion of an unplugged time and think this can be a practical solution for many families. I would welcome any other suggestions regarding this topic!
1. Take this time to discuss the issue with your family. What do your children think about their screen time?
2. Ask your children about your own screen time. Children can give you an honest perspective.
3. Discuss Ella’s feelings and ask your children if they ever felt like Ella. Ask “What does Ella mean regarding getting her family back?”
3. Make an unplugged time in your house!
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