It's somewhat ironic that the catalyst for change arrived via the news application on my spiffy new Android phone. (OK, so Mom has a tiny little Android addiction going on, too.) While I was waiting for the kids to be dismissed from school one day, I came upon this story:
Mom unplugs teens and they survive
By BETH J. HARPAZ, The Associated Press
Susan Maushart lived out every parent’s fantasy: She unplugged her teenagers.
For six months, she took away the Internet, TV, iPods, cell phones and video games. The eerie glow of screens stopped lighting up the family room. Electronic devices no longer chirped through the night like “evil crickets.” And she stopped carrying her iPhone into the bathroom.
The result of what she grandly calls “The Experiment” was more OMG than LOL — and nothing less than an immersion in RL (real life).
|Thanks, Susan! You're an inspiration.|
Turns out this woman has written a book (The Winter of Our Disconnect) about her family's "experiment" and how it improved their lives. I was so intrigued that I told Craig and the kids about it at the dinner table that night...and the kids (especially the boys) reacted in a way that was shocking. There was talk of mutiny if Mom and Dad ever tried to take away screens, threats of running away if videogames and cell phones were removed from their lives. In one case, there was a tearful hizzy fit about the injustice of it all. (Hmm...it appears that some of us have forgotten that screens are a privilege, not a God given right.) One of the girls was the sole voice of reason, warning the others that if they continued to fuss, it would only make Mom and Dad think maybe our family could stand to be unplugged. Bingo...that's exactly what Mom and Dad decided to do...but we live in a democracy (or maybe a benign dictatorship). Therefore, right there at the dinner table, amidst weeping and wailing and nashing of teeth but with eventual acceptance of the inevitable, a proposal to at least partially unplug the whole Risley-Schoelles clan was hammered out. Just like that, Screenless Sundays were born.
Yesterday was our first day with no screens. Per our agreement, that means the following:
No TV or Movies
No gaming systems
Cell phone use is limited to voice communication for an actual purpose (no texting)
When the dinner dishes were cleared away, I helped kids with homework and studying for midterms. Madiyar asked for a needle and thread and sewed a rip in his backpack (The kid actually did a chore voluntarily, without threat of punishment???) Max read a book and Aniyar and Kate played cards. We spent a good hour listening to the kids tell stories of their memories of Kazakhstan...we read books, listened to music, and enjoyed each other. So can you guess what will now be a regular part of our family calendar? Craig and I already see the results of unplugging not just the kids but ourselves as well. We're committed to doing something fun as a family each Sunday afternoon from now on...sans screens, unplugged but more connected to each other.
Just in case you couldn't tell, let me be clear what Mom thought of our little experiment:
OMG, Screenless Sunday was XLNT!!!!