Honey, I unplugged the kids
So it turns out we are the ones addicted to video games, not the kids
As I posted here last week, we took a few days over our spring break to rent a cabin on a chain of lakes near Orlando called Lake Louisa State Park. The park makes a point of not outfitting its cabins with telephones, televisions, Internet connections or radios. "The cabins were designed without these amenities to encourage guests to explore the natural beauty of the state park."
A friend of mine actually considered joining us until she read that. She didn't think it would be too relaxing to have a bunch of bored kids underfoot whining at her.
That gave me pause, but I was determined to go gonzo. No GameBoys, no DVD players. I made a point of turning off my cell phone when we arrived. We went on a hike and the kids tried to catch bugs with a net and we scooped up some baby fish in a jar (and put them back, of course). That night, we made dinner together and played Scrabble and Uno and had a fine time.
The next day we rented a canoe and headed back to the cabin for a late lunch. It was later that afternoon that I realized I was the one who missed the blinking screens. The 6 year old was pouting that no one wanted to play chess with him. I had yet to sit down with that stack of books I brought because I had replaced the entertainment system.
"I guess that's the dirty little secret," I told my husband, "that it's the parents that are addicted to the video games to give them a break from the kids." To which my husband said, "That's a secret?"
My friend Ad Hudler, a novelist who also maintains a thought-provoking blog, recently imposed a week of Internet absinence on himself. He wrote that during that week "The days seemed longer. I had no idea how much time, cumulatively, I spend online. ... I hazard to say I spend at least 90 minutes a day online: facebook, email, websites. All added up, that's an entire work day every week!"
I agree with Ad that I read a lot more and felt like I had more time without the electronic chains. I was actually in no hurry to get back on the grid once we got back. The kids didn't seem to miss it much either, so maybe we need to start a ritual of unplugged weekends every now and then.
-- Sharon Kennedy Wynne