Wow today is a lot different than it was when I was a kid. How many times have you heard that one from your dad? Well, now that we are dads we get to say it to our kids. And you know what? Things really are a lot different, I’m mainly talking about our children’s interest in video games and the computers in general.
How are we as fathers handling how much time our children spend on digital devices? You only have to look at recent news articles to find the answer. Recently a father in China put out a “virtual hit” on his son’s “virtual life”. No, I couldn’t make this up if I tried. The man paid a virtual assassin to kill his son’s online character, over and over again because the son wouldn’t stop playing the game.
Then there is the story of the father in Massachusetts who is paying his 14-year-old daughter $200 to stay off Facebook for six months.
Is it just me or is there something seriously wrong with this picture? When I was a kid I would spend only the required amount of time necessary in the house. I was gone, the first chance I got. Outside playing cops and robbers, baseball, whatever.
I have children ranging in age from 12-18 and both models, female and male so you could say I’m a bit of an expert on this issue already. What I like to do is limit my children’s time with video games and in a lot of cases sit down and play with them (one of my easier jobs as a dad).
I also limit the amount of time on the internet and even though our whole house has WiFi access I make my children ask to use it, I can monitor who is using the WiFi and when. I check up on my children’s Facebook accounts and I have had to suggest they delete items from time to time.
But with all this being said, I’m not really telling you anything that you probably don’t already do yourself in your own home. One thing I add to the mix is a love of adventure in the great outdoors.
One thing my family and I still love to do is load up the camper and head out to a campground somewhere and just spend some time unplugged. It doesn’t even have to be more than a weekend and it can be the same spot most of the time. The main thing is spending some quality time reacquainting ourselves with each other. And it works! Now I’m not the type of dad that can start a fire with only the lint in his pocket and the sun’s rays, and I sure don’t kill the night’s dinner on the spot but we do rough it to an extent.
My kids are as plugged in as anybody’s kids, and you may think they are just being forced into this time away from their devices because they have to. However, just a month ago I realized our old camper was showing its age so I asked my kids if they even have any interest in going camping this year, or are they getting too old for it.
Their overwhelming response was they wanted to go camping as much as possible. So we are in the process of buying a new camper. It just goes to show you all we need to do to limit the time our children spend with digital devices, is to offer them something better. Family time in the great outdoors, give it a try.
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