Wired Kids: 5 Signs It's Time to Unplug

The Internet has changed many things in our lives. One of the most dramatic changes society has seen is the break-down in social graces. As the first generation of kids to grow up with today's vast array of electronics, children are spending more and more solitary time glued to these devices. They bring them to the dinner table, on vacations, to the movies, etc. They become so absorbed that that they opt out of important face-to-face interaction and opportunities to socialize. This is having a profound impact on their ability to learn and practice polite behavior and appropriate interaction. 

With unrestricted access to the Internet, gaming systems, cell phones, and computers, kids are missing out on a very important part of the growth process. They are not learning to make eye contact, converse with an adult, or engage in the most basic of social graces. If they don't learn as a child how to be a good guest or host, chances are great that they will never learn.

They are spending so much time with their heads bowed, shoulders scrunched, and eyes on a screen that they are not getting important training - or even picking up important cues - in societal interaction. This training is critical to a successful and happy life. Parents seem to be buying into this behavior because it almost guarantees the child will be quiet and occupied.  

There has to be a balance. Parents need to find a balance between activities that require electricity and those that run on fresh air, sunshine, and human interaction, and they must unplug their children in order to enjoy time in the real world.

The following is a list of some signs that it could be time to unplug:

1. The Family Isn't Communicating.

If you find that you cannot talk to your children because they are constantly glued to a screen, it is time to limit their computer and TV time. Personal interaction is crucial to children's emotional and social development and family bonding.

2. Does Your Child Seem Happy and Healthy?

Do your children seem to get sick more often? Are they cranky or irritable more often than not? This can be attributed to lack of physical activity. Children need to get out in the fresh air and play. They needs to run, jump, swim, and move. Kids who get regular exercise sleep better and are better able to handle physical and emotional challenges.

3. Loss of Imagination.

One of the most damaging things that can happen to a child is the loss of imagination. Kids who are glued to a video game or television lose the ability to create. Self-expression is a building block of critical thinking, which every adult needs to succeed in life and career.

4. Lack of Interest.

Are your children uninterested in anything beyond the television or computer screen? If so, it is time to shut them down. There is a whole world out there that they need to explore.

5. Making and Keeping Friends.

Do your children have good friends beyond Internet or game play? Many kids who have been plugged in for too long lose friends, and they are not easy to get back.

Parents know when enough-is-enough, and they must be willing to stand up to their children and say "no." It is a parent's job to show their children the world outside that tiny little box. They can do that by leading by example. If you want your children to enjoy the outdoors, to enjoy friends, and to stay active, blaze that trail. Children will mimic their parents. They may fuss long and loud, but the result - a well-adjusted, happy child-turned-adult - is worth it.

A child of the sixties, Lisa Becker struggles to keep up with the electronic advances her two children take for granted. She offers this advice for new parents who want "unplugged" time to snuggle and bond in quiet comfort with their infants and suggests http://www.toysrus.com/family/index.jsp?categoryId=12614423 for ideas on finding a good pillow for that special time. At home, she established regular “electricity not required” times to establish a balance between electronic entertainment and family interaction, which has become a non-negotiable rule.

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dlytle/6961324640/

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