Readers familiar with this blog know that we are pretty wired in. We do geek camp and sci-fi nights. We love documentaries and are in a long term relationship with netflix. We have more computers than people and at last count, more gaming consoles than cats. Sigh. Sometimes I feel like we're drowning in electronics.
It's all good, though. We do actually unplug here and walk away from the electronics for a decent portion of the day. We don't have cable or satellite, which allows us to control what our kids have access to and when, although they've become very astute at finding their favorite shows on netflix. Bonus: no commercials so less I-wants. Downside: do you know how many Sponge Bob episodes are on netflix?
Limits are important to set, especially when you've got five people who can uberfocus on whatever technology they're currently obsessed with. Timers are good, but only if you remember to set them and enforce them, and when you're in the middle of something, timers are annoyances that can easily be ignored by all of us.
How do you know you've achieved a good balance between being wired in and being electronically-disconnected? Every family is going to have a different answer; for us, we know we've gotten too connected when walking away from it is hard to do and causes meltdowns. Meltdowning over being told to turn a game off results in longer times away from the electronic device.
I think that being wired in is part of our new reality; I obviously don't think it's a bad thing; it opens the world up to us, allows us to connect to people on the other side of the world, lets us know we are not alone. Teaching our children how to incorporate being wired into the world while not being ruled by it is a very important skill to learn, and it's one that should be practiced for a portion of every day, where we walk away from our phones, our computers, our electronic toys, and interact with the world in a non-digital way.
And with that, I will make good on that, hit publish and go swimming with my kids. :-)