I am the mother of a couple of addicts. They are only three and five but the media bug has gotten into them like a leech on a dog-sucking away at their childhood. TV, movies, gaming, smart phones; real experiences have been replaced by virtual experiences, physical play (you know-sunshine, sneakers, limb movement) has been replaced by virtual games.
At what point is it enough? I reached that point when I told my daughter it was time to turn off the TV and play with toys. She looked at me with big eyes filled with horrified tears and said “No Mommy! Oh, please no!” I starred at her like we had just been introduced. How could a child with a playroom full of toys not want to play with them? When my three year old is watching a cartoon it’s as if I’m not even in the room. I was suddenly terrified at what I had allowed. It all started so innocently; my baby girl watching TV to buy me 30 minutes to myself. Then it became TV during breakfast…then lunch…then dinner. Then computer games in lieu of a nap, or playing Wii because it was to hot outside, or to cold, or to…Monday.
Suddenly I was facing a chilling realization: it’s not that my kids are addicted to media-it’s that I am addicted to them being addicted to it. In fact I count on it. When they are lost in a cartoon I don’t have to be a mom for just one moment. I am experiencing the illusion of peace and control-just like they are experiencing the illusion of adventure and play. Somehow my family’s whole reality has been replaced with an animated version of itself. I don’t give my kids a bowl of M&Ms three meals a day, so why is it suddenly normal to fill up every ounce of their brains with various forms of media? It’s the candy of activities and there’s no room left for the nutritious stuff-the real stuff. I think it’s time to go on a media diet. I don’t hate cartoons and computer games; they just don’t make very good parents. I know there is a time and place for technology-it’s just not all the time and every place.
So, sorry kids, but it’s time to unplug. It’s time for mom and dad to be mom and dad again, not remote controllers. It’s time for you to enjoy the warm sunshine and chilly rain. It’s time to look out the window when you’re in the car; it’s time to paint, ride bikes, go to the park. It’s time to make things out of cardboard boxes and save toilet paper rolls. It’s time to sit down at the table and have a meal together; it’s time for quiet time to be quiet time. Real life is bigger than the illusion of it, maybe it’s time to take reality for a spin and see where it takes us.