The little boy that used to beg me to take him to the playground every day is now a moody teenager who is completely obsessed with technology. Lately he would rather spend his time on his phone or playing video games.
It seems I see more of the top of The Boy’s head than I see of his face. If he was not attending football workouts, I would worry that his thumbs were the only part of his body getting regular exercise. He looks up from his phone only to roll his eyes or glare at me with annoyance. The Boy practically lives with his phone in his hand, responding to messages before he receives a notification.
Thankfully, I know the right combination of encouragement, mutual understanding and solid role modeling. I know it is possible to get him off the couch, off the phone, and spend more time outside. And my efforts appear to be paying off, bringing more balance into our lives.
Although it appears that The Boy is ignoring me, he is definitely watching what I am doing. So, before I ask him to put down his phone and get outside, I have to stop and evaluate how often I use technology. I admit that I can be constantly checking my social media, texts or emails.
So I have been changing my patterns. instead of sitting in my car with the phone waiting for football workouts to end, I am walking the track or talking to the other parents. I am making an effort to be more active and genuinely connect with the people around me.
The Boy and I have been brainstorming fun activities to share. We’re leaving our phones in the car while we go bowling, to the arcade, or out to eat together. We are planning trips to drive go karts, miniature golf, ziplining, and possibly whitewater rafting. To make sure he does not feel smothered and forced to spend time with me, we invite our friends and family to join us. More importantly, he is part of the planning. That way he is more engaged and even forgets that he is too cool to have fun without a device in his hands.
One of the lessons I’m learning as we limit the amount of time each of us spends on technology, is the importance of sitting still. I have a habit of moving from the time I wake up to the time I go to bed. Sometimes The Boy chooses quiet activities for us, like napping, playing board games or cooking a meal together.
By unplugging from technology, we are enjoying each other’s company, spending more time interacting with people face to face, and getting more physical exercise.
The Boy is less moody because he is more rested, and I’m able to be present for him instead of constantly checking my phone or making calls. We are not posting pictures on social media, but we are making memories that will last a lifetime!