Tired of your kids texting and gaming?

February 18, 2011 by  
Filed under Communication, Family, Parenting, Teenagers/Tweens

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Kids TextingAre your kids texting, gaming and listening to music all the time? Well, a NY mom finally said, “Enough!” and actually unplugged her 3 teenagers for not a day, a week or a month…but for six months! She not only stopped her kids texting, video gaming and iPod listening, but also all Internet, TV and cell phones!

Amazing thing started to happen. They started eating meals together, playing cards, pulling out the old photo albums, listening to music together and going on outings as a family. Her older daughter rediscovered the library and research, her son started playing his previously discarded saxophone and her younger daughter grumbled the most but also brought her grades up the most.

Now you and I know that totally putting a stop to your kids texting, gaming and iPod-ding is totally unrealistic. In this day and age, they are practically life-support systems. However, periods of time devoid of your kids texting, gaming, watching TV and so on does seem rather appealing, don’t you think?

If you are a parent who uses loss of electronics as a consequence for misbehavior, you may already have discovered the unplanned benefits of periods of unplugging. You may have found that while your kids were initially angry and miserable, they soon realized that they had to find other ways of filling their time. Within a couple of days there may have been a remarkable change. Instead of being holed up in their rooms with all their electronics, kids wander out into the family room and actually talk! Just like the NY family, an electronic moratorium is ripe with opportunities to play board games, put together puzzles and take evening bike rides. A previously discarded musical instrument is retuned and singing is heard, the bike wheels are inflated with air and play dates are scheduled. The Legos come back out, as well as arts and craft supplies. And after a while, they don’t seem to miss the electronics. Some parents find that when they aren’t putting up with their kids texting, gaming and so on, they actually notice that their kids seem to become happier, more interactive and more creative!

Are Your Kids Texting and Gaming Too Much?

Unplugging doesn’t need to be a punishment! How about limiting your kids texting, gaming and so on for the sheer benefits it can bring? Then here are some suggestions for some simple unplugging strategies:

• Meal times: All cell phones, TV’s, hand-held games and iPods should be left in another room during meal times. This goes for whether eating at home, at someone else’s house or at a restaurant.

• Unplugged time: All phones, including the land line, need to be shut off (or at least go unanswered) during meal time and other family time, such as when watching a movie together, playing games or on an outing.

• School days: Make a rule that there is no gaming on school days. This will avoid a lot of hassles and arguments about getting off the computer, the Wii and so on.

• Homework time: There should be no excuses for kids texting, Facebook-ing or any other forms of chatting during homework time. Music should be  negotiable, as some kids actually concentrate better when listening to music.

• Bed time: Kids texting, IM’ing and so on is how they maintain their social lives. Therefore, it is important that they have time to “talk” with their friends. Give them time to stay connected, and then specify the time at which they need to be turned off for the night. Leave the electronics in their rooms only if you can absolutely trust that they follow the rules about their usage. If not sure, have them turned over to you until morning.

• Driving time: All electronics need to be off during time in the car—with the exception of long car trips. A trip to the grocery store does not warrant a movie or a video game. Instead, turn car rides into time to talk, tell jokes, sing songs, and play ‘I Spy,’ the Alphabet Game or 20-questions.

• Interaction time: Eye contact must be made when engaged in conversation. Ear buds need to be disengaged and fingers need to be off the cell phone keypad when conversation is going on, or you need to talk to your child about something.

• Gaming time: Set time limits for days they are allowed to play their video and computer games. If  your kids don’t comply, then the length of gaming time gets shortened or taken away altogether.

Make sure that you are setting a good example. If you don’t want your kids texting, talking on their phones or constantly relying on some electronic device for entertainment, then be sure you are showing them other ways to spend their time. When they are unplugged, then they can become tuned in, tapped in and turned on to other activities and family members around them.

Enjoy your kids!

Are your kids texting all the time?  How do you handle the electronics situation in your home?

Please feel free to leave a comment about Kids Texting in the box below.


8 Responses to “Tired of your kids texting and gaming?”
  1. Daca says:

    This is certainly a topic that moms and dads should talk about more often. Kids are spending too much time on the web and with their cell phones these days.
    I believe that every parent should at least try to follow these suggestions. Great article.

  2. Dr. Vicki Panaccione says:

    Communication is the key! Thanks for commenting.

  3. Andrea Andrews says:

    For as long as I can remember….I could always talk and text at the same time.. but really what was I paying attention to? It wasn’t until I went out to my boss one day for lunch when I got scolded at for texting and trying to have a conversation with her. It’s rude, I know this now! At first my head was just screaming for my phone to check either my facebook or texts, but eventually you come around and become grounded again.
    As a child during the summer so that we weren’t “couch potatoes” my mother would disconnect our cable. Instead of sitting at home doing nothing I involved in community activities, and sports. But the worst of all was I was taken to the local public library for an entire day to read. BORING!! But as I became older I began to appreciate what my mother did because it gave me great study habits.

  4. Lola says:

    Remember when we couldn’t wait to get outside and ride bikes and swim? Childhood obesity wasn’t a hot topic.

  5. Dr. Vicki Panaccione says:

    Unfortunately the world has taken on more sedentary lifestyles. The only way to get our kids to ride bikes and swim is to set limits on the video gaming and other electronic activities, provide lots of opportunities for them to get outside and be a good role model by living a healthy, active lifestyle ourselves.

  6. Sharon says:

    I couldn’t agree more. But I often feel like the only parent willing to curtail these activitis.

    I also worry about all the “too grown-up” content online that our kids can access yet I know so many teens that have i-phones which have very poor filtering.

    Feeling very challengd by this issue. Glad to see it addressed here.

  7. Dr. Vicki Panaccione says:

    Thank you for your comments. It is very challenging to monitor what kind of information kids have access to nowadays. There are still restrictions you can put on phones, or opt to give your kids less sophisticated phones with far less capabilities. Keeping the lines of communication open is paramount in dealing with this issue with your kids. There is actually a new free app that keeps your kids from texting while driving. Check it out at http://www.detext.com.


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