Day 17: Homeschooling Tip – Limit the Use of Electronics

Although I am writing this tip on my computer while my kids text me and my husband updates his birding list on his iPad, I recognize there is such a thing as too much in regard to the use of electronics.

Just like every other habit, entertaining ourselves with electronic devices can be a difficult addiction to break. There are so many more gadgets today which devour our time than there were when I was a child, nevertheless I did have a television growing up and my mother often had to step in and regulated its use. Today there are more things to turn off, but the parental intervention is the same. Unplug.

It becomes more difficult to set time limits when so much of our schoolwork is done on the computer – typing papers, taking online courses, educational games that sharpen skills, etc. It is difficult, but I did not say impossible.

Our children grew up with 30 minute rules regarding television and computer use. When they began to drive and had cell phones with texting capabilities, we had to create more household rules like no texting or talking on the phone during meals, cell phones in the kitchen or at least powered down after ten at night, and internet service disabled at bedtime. These daily regulations helped our children to use their time wisely and to be in control rather than be controlled by their electronics.

Throughout middle school and most of high school we took a one week fast a month from all electronics – with the exception of school time use. My husband chose the first week of the month to help us to begin the month well. The first time we turned everything off was a challenge for all of us. We had favorite television shows we missed and couldn’t use the television as a reward or stress-reliever. But because even my husband and I participated in the fast, the children didn’t respond with resistance.

Our electronic fast resulted in more interaction and more physical activity – and I must admit – more mess. Board games like Monopoly, 1000 piece puzzles, littlest pet shop world meets Barbie land, and more took place when the electronics were turned off. My children read more, played with one another more, and actually laughed more during those weeks than at other times. We did more as a family in the evenings.

We did look forward to the end of those fasting weeks, but surprisingly, there was not a run for the computer. We were able to maintain these fasts for quite a number of years.

Now our children are away and I am not sure they maintain a good balance in regard to electronic use, but I do think they will self-regulate better having experienced our family fasts. At least they know life can go on quite naturally without their electronics.

Now that I think about it, I realize it might just be time to reinstate the fast for my own benefit. I have been spending a lot of time on computers between work, blogs, Facebook, and checking email. The first week of October is coming – consider it a challenge!

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Bethany Den Boer

Christian Children's Author and Speaker

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