There is a growing movement in which many households are ridding themselves of televisions, iPods, video games, and other electronic devices. I call it the "unplugged movement" though it doesn't officially have a name. I highly commend the households who have completely accomplished this feat successfully, as I know it can't be easy. I have often thought about joining the movement, but I just can't bring myself to do it. The fact is, a media addiction is a hard addiction to overcome. But, we do what we can as to not be the type of family who puts too much emphasis on the media and electronic devices. For the most part, we're "unplugged."
If you were to visit our home, you would see that there are absolutely no televisions in any bedrooms. This is one way in which we have "unplugged" our home. I believe that a bedroom is a place of rest and sanctuary, and it is my own personal belief that televisions should not be in bedrooms. It has actually been proven (there have been studies) that merely the presence of a television in a bedroom can cause you not to get a good night sleep. No, I'm not kidding! See, a bedroom is a place of rest. By bringing a television into the room, you're bringing noise, sounds, lights, etc, things that aren't really associated with rest. By bringing that into your room, your mind and body begin to associate your bedroom not with rest anymore, but with the television and what it inflicts, especially if you frequently watch television in the room. Even if you turn the TV off when you sleep, your body and mind still associate it with your room and hence your body doesn't rest as well as a person's body who doesn't have a television in their room, a person whose room is used only for rest and relaxation and other bedroom activities. I believe that not having a television in our bedroom is great for my husband and I relationship wise. When we are in our bedroom and down for the night, we talk. We talk during the day too of course, but at night we talk about things that we didn't get to talk about during the day or random nonsense, and I love it. Also, having televisions in lots of different rooms is a great way to cause a family division. How? Well, you have one person in one room watching something, another person in another room watching something, etc. You aren't spending any time together as a family. Then if everyone gets deep into a show and each show comes on at a different time, that just takes away from time that you could be spending together as a family.
The TV is the hardest "unplugging" for us to do but we still aren't overly exposed to it. We have a few series that we watch, and I like to watch CNN to see what's going on in the world. We are also big on sports so we do sporting events, a movie here and there, and even a bit of Wii and PS3. Most of the time during the day, however, we have our television off and are spending time with Talan, whether it be outside in his sandbox or inside our home running around with him somewhere. When watching television, it's as if you're confined to a cell, and often times parents will confine their children as well. If you have small children who are more prone to get into things, and you want to watch something on television, then naturally you're going to make your kids stay put where you can see them. Our home is Talan's home, so how is it fair for him to have to be confined to one portion of it so that we can see something on television? Hence, we "unplug" ourselves. The only places that we have baby gates in our household are on the stairways. Otherwise, Talan is free to run and roam as he pleases, and one or both of us is/are right there with him. Whenever Ted and I want to see something we record it and watch it together after our son is down for bed.
We are definitely "unplugged" as far as the telephone and cell phones are concerned. I haven't ever been much of a phone person. I say what I have to say, and I'm done, I don't just sit on the phone for hours on end. I'm not a big fan of text messaging either. I do it here and there during the day, but at home, my cell phone is generally far away from where I am, upstairs in our bedroom or something. Poppa Morgan is the same way.
As for computers, we have an office nook in our bedroom where we have a desktop (that we rarely use), and we each have a laptop. I check my e-mail and do a "tweet" on Twitter here and there, and there are some websites that I am a member of that I visit and check in on, and of course I blog. Oh, and Poppa Morgan and I do YouTube dates sometimes which I will elaborate on at another time. Those are fun. That's about it as far as my computer usage goes. Poppa Morgan isn't really big on using the computer. He checks his e-mail and there's some game he plays online from time to time, but that's it. You know it's sad that there are actually rehabilitation centers now for those who are computer addicts ... I kid you not, they exist. I was reading in one of the parenting magazines that I receive in the mail that a majority of computer addicts are mothers, as online websites make it easy for them to meet other mothers who have things in common with them and who share similar interests. The problem with that is, the person is making friends online yes, but they are slowly migrating away from first their real life friends, and then their families. They become consumed with their online friendships and the comfort they get from them and completely retract from reality.
Where iPod "unplugging" is concerned, my husband and I both have iPods and we rarely use them. If I go for a walk at the park then I might take mine and keep one earbud in and listen to a song, but a lot of times I take Talan with me, or Poppa Morgan goes along too, and I just talk to them. I got Poppa Morgan an iPod last year and I've seen him use it a few times but honestly not very much. We mainly listen to music (kid friendly of course) when we're in our vehicles going somewhere.
As far as our children go, they are our main concern and the main reason we decided to "unplug" where we can. I'm always amazed at how many hours kids today spend in front of a television, computer, and/or video games. I see kids, young kids, walking around with cellular phones texting, or listening to iPods. I often wonder if I am the only person who is disturbed by such sightings. Poppa Morgan and I had a discussion about kids and the media some time ago during a news special on the subject, and we have decided that there will be absolutely no phones, computers, and again, no televisions in any of our children's bedrooms. Now don't get me wrong, we don't want to completely keep them from media, we just don't want them to be dependent on it. I know some kids who act like the world will end if they miss an episode of Hannah Montana or if they can't get online and play WoW (World of Warcraft), and we don't want our children to have that attitude. We would prefer for them to entertain themselves through imagination and active play. It's easy for a child to watch a television show and pretend to be the character they saw, but it's actually beneficial for a child to use their own imagination to come up with their own characters who they can pretend to be, and that's what we want. As for phones, we would rather our children be outside actually playing with their friends as opposed to just talking to them on a telephone. Luckily our kids aren't at an age where we have to have the cell phone discussion (one isn't even born yet!), but I know it's going to come up one day.
What I love about "unplugging" is that it puts an emphasis on not only being active, but being active as a family, something being too media oriented can have a serious affect on. "Unplugging" is supposed to help families get out of the house and do activities together, something that we do now with Talan. He has a sandbox in the backyard and we go out and play with him. We get in the pool with him, or we go to the park for a walk or we take a walk down the road we live down. He absolutely loves to be outside and to run around in the yard, and I do hope he's one of those boys that loves to climb trees and play sports and just be outside.
When my brothers and I were kids were very outdoorsy. Outside barefoot, climbing trees, riding bikes, swimming, fishing, horseback riding, etc. We also participated in a lot of sports. I have done gymnastics since I was 3 years old, and I played softball and volleyball when I was older. We were certainly "unplugged" children. Maybe not to the fullest extent as we had our shows that we liked to watch, but we were for the most part, and that's what I want for our children. In my opinion, everyday living and the media have blurred too much within each other these days. People are so caught up with what this celebrity and that celebrity is doing, and kids no longer have role models on television anymore, they are literally obsessed with some of the celebrities of today. Honestly, it scares me.