According to the Today Show yesterday (5-18-09), a experimental challenge was accepted by 5 teenage high school students– " try giving up cell phones, computers, iPods and video games for 10 days." Could they do it? They did! And, they didn't die (although they did report "withdrawal" symptoms).
During an interview with Matt Lauer, for one of the participants (David), the biggest challenge was figuring out what to do with all the time he now had on his hands. He described the experience as “chaos … just because you don’t know what to do, so you’re freaking out sometimes.”
In trying to limit time-consuming absorbtion with technology, what do we expect our kids to do if they aren't constantly communicating with their friends, fiddling with their cell-phones, playing video games, or engrossed in their private isolated concert hall?
One of the most discouraging admissions came from David's mother. Toward the end of the interview, she said, “I think he is going to impose the limits himself." – “He’s aware of it now. It’s enough with the screaming. Things are going to improve.” But what she didn't see, apparently, was David's non-verbal nay-saying head-shake. Although she indicated that she appreciated the fact that David was actually available for conversation at dinner and that he participated in more interactive behaviors with the family during the experiment, she expected him to set limits for himself. Looks like David got the point, but he intends to resume his texting regimen.
What's the "take-away"? Read the article and watch the video of the interview at Today Show 5-18-09 to come to your own conclusions. I suspect that some parents (maybe you) have forgotten that you can set limits…after all, you do pay the bill. Also, it is appropriate for you to set the boundaries for family-interactive behaviors (like dinner time). People can't text or talk during a movie at the theater, why is it any less thoughtless to text during dinner?
Now, there's another side. Kids will do what they "wanna" and will avoid what they don't like. So, if you choose to make family meal times a text-free-zone, it's up to you to make the conversation at the table worth the texting-deprivation you child might experience.
Think of positive and interesting things to talk about that will engage your children. Create a judgement-free zone that encourages interaction and assures a shared enjoyable experience of being together. A few words to the wise: "Don't argue, don't lecture–instead, bring up non-emotional or non-critical topics of discussion.
Want some ideas? Check out Table Topics.