Does technology eat up so much of your kids’ time that they have little interest in family?
I ran a column a few years ago on how we need to bring our kids back into the family. As we’ve been talking this week about how to prepare kids for marriage (and how to make sure they don’t make a huge mistake!), I think it all comes back to maintaining those relationships in the crucial teenage years.
So here’s a reminder that perhaps some of us need this week: You are not powerless! Let’s have some fun again.
Sheila’s Musings: Let’s Steal Our Kids Back from Technology
Does your teen spend so much time online that you feel like you've lost your relationship?
How to rediscover family time--great tips for parenting teenagers!
What would you do if a pervert came to your door and asked to speak with your 13-year-old daughter in private? Something brutal involving a corkscrew immediately comes to my mind.
But is this really so different than what happens millions of times everyday with our kids and technology? Our children huddle in their rooms with their computers, their iPods, and their televisions, and they imbibe a pop culture which is inherently antithetical to everything healthy families stand for. Culture tells our kids that image matters, not character; that the easy life is to be admired, rather than an honest life of hard work; and that morality is so yesterday.
And then we wonder why teens grunt at us rather than holding normal conversations.
I recently received an email from a friend whose teenage daughter is due to be stuck in summer school because of poor marks. What should the mom do?
Academics are important, but if teens start doing poorly in school, more often than not those marks are the symptom of the problem, not the problem itself. The problem is that the child has forsaken our value system, which includes our belief that you should work hard at school so you can support yourself, instead of living in your parents’ basement for the rest of your life.
To combat this, I recommend instituting “work hours”, perhaps for an hour and a half at night, when everyone in the family works. Kids complete homework, and parents balance the chequebook or go through the mail. Do it together, at the kitchen table, so you can see whether or not your teen complies! If teens aren’t present at the study session, all technology gets turned off for that day and the next day. It’s not rocket science. Just do it.
Parents, after all, are not as helpless as we think we are, even if our teens are bigger than us.
Sure teens are intimidating, because we can’t force them to talk, smile, or even look us in the eye. But we do control the purse strings, which means that our children watch television, play video games, and surf the web only at our pleasure. All these things are privileges, and they can be taken away!
And perhaps they should be taken away, or at least minimized. Many of our children are addicted to technology, and it’s giving them the wrong value system. Besides, there is no reason for kids to have a television or a computer in their room where you can’t monitor them. Get it out of their bedrooms, now. It’s your house.
So eat dinner together as a family. Tell jokes. Have debates! Once a week, host a family night when you play games. Sure kids may complain “this is so lame”, but stick to it.
Within a few months you will see a change, because games are actually fun. While camping recently, I taught my girls and one of their friends to play the card game “Hearts”. Of course, it was more fun before they figured out how to stop me from getting control, but even now that they’ve improved, it’s still guaranteed to bring smiles! Play Monopoly. Try some newer family board games that are a riot: Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, Blokus.
Kids on computers too much? Play a board game as a family!
(Here we are playing Pandemic, one of our favourites!)
Life does not need a screen; it does need relationships. So why not do a massive overhaul of your home, get rid of the technology from the kids’ rooms and invest in a game cupboard instead? You have power. You control the money. Let’s steal our kids back. Whether or not they realize it, they need us. Now go shuffle those cards!
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