Getting Kids Unplugged and Outside

by Ann Douglas

Get Kids UnpluggedThe weather outside is far from frightful, yet your kids are indoors playing video games or surfing the Internet. How can you go about getting kids unplugged from the electronic gadgets and get them out into the world?

As you've no doubt discovered by now, unplugging the gadgets is the easy part of dealing with the problem.

It's getting the kids to "unplug mentally" from the video game action and online "world" -- that's the real tricky part. After all, if you unplug everything electronic at your house, odds are your kids will get their electronic "fix" at a friend's instead.

How do parents deal with this challenge? Does this mean that the situation is totally hopeless and you should give in to your child's demands for unlimited playing and surfing time?

Absolutely not.

Even if you can't wrestle the computer or video game genie back into the bottle, there's plenty you can do to encourage your child to start leading a more balanced lifestyle. Show your children that life doesn't have to revolve entirely around a virtual universe or that it represents reality.

Helpful Ideas and Methods

Get Out and About

Get out of the house and do something fun as a family. Check out the local activity listings if you're stuck for ideas of things to do. There are lots of parks, community centers, hiking trails, and museums begging to be discovered.

Model the Unplugged Lifestyle Yourself

It's hard for kids to get the message that the offline world measures up to the virtual world if they always see mom and dad lugging around a laptop or checking email via their Blackberry every two minutes! Take a deep breath and step away from the gadget. Really. You might find it freeing!

Visit the Media Awareness Network Website

Find out more about kids, computers, and video games at the Media Awareness Network website. While it is specifically a Canadian website, it does a great job of presenting both the pros and cons of computer use and video game play for kids. It can also help answer questions. For statistics on children and media usage in the US you can check out the Joan Ganz Cooney Center.

Snoop Around for Ideas

Whether you're wondering how screen time affects your toddler or just need ideas that encourage breaking free of being dependent on screen media and activities kids can leap into practically on their own, you'll reap the benefits of these easy solutions.

Ann Douglas is the author of numerous books about pregnancy and parenting including the bestselling "The Mother of All Pregnancy Books." She regularly contributes to a number of print and online publications, is frequently quoted in the media on a range of parenting-related topics, and has appeared as a guest on a number of television and radio shows. Ann and her husband Neil live in Peterborough, Ontario. with the youngest of their four children. Learn more at her site,

Copyright © Ann Douglas. Permission to publish granted to