Right before Christmas I was offered the opportunity to read Unplugged: Ella Gets Her Family Back by Laura Pedersen. I was offered a free book if I would review it here on this little ol’ blog. I checked out Laura Pedersen and turns out she’s legit so I said yes, please send me a free book.
Unplugged is the story of Ella who wants to spend time with her family but discovers that everybody would rather spend time with their electronic devices. She channels her frustration and uses her ingenuity to get her families attention, and ultimately gets her family back.
In one scene Ella’s parents sit down with her to find out why she is so frustrated. They assume it is because she is the only one in the family without a phone or device to plug into, but it turns out she doesn’t want one. She wants everyone else to put their phones down and spend time with each other. I love this because it shows that parents are just as guilty as kids when it comes to spending too much time online. As parents we worry about how much “screen time” our kids are getting every day, what they are exposed to online and how the fast paced world of gaming is effecting their attention spans. Those are all legitimate concerns but we should be just as concerned about who much “screen time” we are getting as opposed to “play time”. I often hear a little voice beside me while I’m plugged into my computer, “mommy, play with me”. When this request is brushed off or becomes annoying it is time for a serious reality check.
After Addison and I read this together I gently prodded him to get his reaction. His initial response was negative. His translation of the book was that Ella’s family cut out all electronics and screen time. He wasn’t too keen on the idea of not being able to play Wii or watch Lego reviews on YouTube. I assured him that the family in the book didn’t cut out all electronics but rather dedicated just a little time each week to unplug and spend time together. The next week we read it again at Addison’s request. This is a sure sign that he liked the book and wanted to think about it some more. After the third reading I suggested we take one night a week and have a family game night. He liked that idea and I set off to Target to get some new board games. So far he is a big fan of Blokus and our Friday night game night.
I recommend this book if you’re looking for an introduction of reducing screen time in your family. Electronics and hand held devices are getting easier and easier for our kids to access and operate, there’s no question about that. I know some parents who don’t seem concerned at all and some parents who are on the other extreme and want to severely limit their kids exposure to the internet, screen time, etc. For me, I fall somewhere in the middle, recognizing that rejecting technology is out of the question. Technology isn’t going anywhere and is going to become more and more a part of our children’s lives. As parents, Dear Husband and I feel that we need to learn how to keep up with the changes and develop strategies on how to control technology, as opposed to it controlling us.
I’d like to hear from parents — Do you “unplug?” How do you stay connected to your family and technology?
(Disclaimer: Yes, I was provided a free book in exchange for this post. Rest assured that all thoughts, opinions, words, ideas are completely my own.)