Today on the couch we have my very good friend Joanne Kraft. Joanne and I joke that we met and fell in love at our favorite local coffee shop Santoro’s. Joanne is the one who encouraged me to start a blog and has been a wealth of knowledge to me as I cut my teeth as a newbie writer. She is a wife, mom of 4 great kids, police dispatcher, author of her new book, Just Too Busy and my friend. Joanne is uniquely qualified to talk about media boundaries as she took her family on a radical sabbatical from the busyness of life. So slide over and make some room for Joanne!
The Kaiser Family Foundation recently came out with this study; Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds. The Results were staggering.
• Kids spend more than 7.5 hours with media—TV, iPods, and the Web, plus another two hours on their cell phones, per day.
• Families communicate an average of 40 percent less when the television is on.
• Heavy media users reported lower grades and happiness levels.
As a mom, I create boundaries to keep my children safe. “Hold a hand when crossing the street.” “Eat your carrots, they’ll help you see better.” “No, you can’t stay up that late. You have school in the morning.” “Twizzlers are definitely NOT one of the four food groups.”
What about their screen time? Where were my boundaries there? Dora the Explorer was a welcome guest in our home and Sponge Bob Squarepants spent every afternoon in our family room. As my children grew in age, I realized the greatest boundary-battle of all loomed ahead.
Slaying the media-dragons in our home. As the children have gotten older, we’ve gone from battling the TV to warring against cell phones, Facebook, and video games. (Not necessarily in that order.)
As the matriarch of our home it wasn’t long before I realized I was plugged in a lot, and when I looked around, it was clear I had little constraint with plugged in things. We were battling a fire-spitting media-dragon—our television.
When I stopped to think about it, there were days I gave more of my undivided attention to it than any of my four children combined. It was my daily drug of choice, taking me to far-away places, allowing me to peek inside homes I prayed were more dysfunctional than ours, and taught me more about great white sharks than I cared to admit. Yes, I loved my TV. I couldn’t imagine living without it.
Unfortunately, what was originally created to add a small slice of entertainment fast became the media bully on the block. With my full consent, I allowed it to take center stage and become the biggest time-stealer in our home. Some families create boundaries by allowing only so much media-time each day. We did something radical.
We unplugged our television almost three years ago. It’s been the best decision we’ve ever made. Sure, we still watch a family DVD together with a big bowl of popcorn, but the constant white noise is no longer distracting me from what’s really important, my family.
Electronics were created to make life easier. Instead, they’ve become time-consuming beasts gobbling up any extra moment in our day. Since unplugging, the kids are doing even better in school. Books are seen in the hands of my kids now, and their test scores are soaring. Have I mentioned the greatest advantage? Our home is a sanctuary from the storms of the world. Peace reigns once again.
How about you? What fire spitting media-dragon needs a few boundaries in your home?
Joanne Kraft is the author of Just Too Busy-Taking Your Family on a Radical Sabbatical. She’s a sought-after speaker who loves to encourage women. Joanne is raising her four children in the Sierra Nevada Foothills of Northern California with her husband Paul. Stop by her blog and sign up for her monthly newsletter! JoanneKraft.com
Just Too Busy – Taking Your Family on a Radical Sabbatical
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