Posts tagged: unplugged families

The “Mommy I’m Bored” Box

By , April 15, 2008 1:07 pm

So your usually wired children are bugging you during TV-Turnoff Week: “Mommy, I’m bored!” The dreaded words. If the obvious response of “go outside and play” doesn’t work, or you live in a big city apartment and “go to your room and play” doesn’t work, why not break out the magic “Mommy I’m Bored” Box?

Find a shoe box, paper bag, jar or coffee can and fill it with slips of paper listing ideas of things to do. Here’s how it works: Your child pulls out a slip of paper and does that activity quietly and happily for the rest of the day. (Is Mom Unplugged hallucinating?)

Well, if your child is just not that cooperative, why not let the little darling choose three slips of paper…the alternative to selecting one of the three proposed activities being “clean your room.” When issued this ultimatum, I bet he or she will suddenly find one of the three choices to be quite fascinating. If not, then at least they’ll have a clean room, right?

Of course the ideas that you put in there should be appropriate to the age, abilities, and interests of your child, but here are some that come to my mind –

Of course there is the Obvious:

-Read a book

-Ride your bike

-Play outside on the swing set

-Write a letter to grandma

The purely Academic:

-Read a book

-Do your homework

– Draw a diagram of the solar system

The purely Creative:

– Create a collage of magazine pictures depicting your favorite color

– Draw a picture of a new food that you have just invented

– Write a song or poem about broccoli

More interesting variations on the Obvious or the Academic:

– How many swings on the swing set can you do between the passing of one car and the next?

– Set the kitchen timer for 5 minutes: how many pages of your book can you read?

– Roll a dice 10 times. Keep track of how many times you come up with each number. Now roll it 20 times, how many times did you get each number? Is it what you expected? Graph this result.

The Old-Fashioned:

Hint – What did you like to play or do as a child? (not that I am saying that you are “old fashioned!!)

– Jumprope

– Hopscotch

– String-figures (Cat’s Cradle, for example)

But how about adding odd things:

– Write a list of every object in the living room that begins with “T”

– Make a sculpture of the dog out of Playdough

– Go outside and bring back five objects that are red

– Put your hand down on a random spot on the lawn. Study it very closely (with magnifying glass if possible). Draw what you find underneath your hand. (Grass? Rocks? Sticks? Bugs? Anthills?)

You get the idea. The “Mommy I’m Bored” Box could almost become a scavenger hunt type activity if you want it to. Or at least an exciting source of random fun activities. The possibilities are limitless, plus it could even be entertaining for you to create it!

If you try this during TV-Turnoff Week (or any other time), please report your findings: How old are your children and what ideas did you put in the box? What did your kids like and dislike about the concept? What ideas went over really well? Which were a flop?

Becky’s Unplugged Week

By , October 17, 2007 9:17 pm

There is another blogger out there who is trying to turn off the TV for one week, just to see how it goes. Becky of Boys Rule My Life (mom of three boys!) and her family have decided to try going without TV for one week. Becky says:

“Jeff and I have been talking about this for some time and after reading this post on Unplug Your Kids and seeing a tv commercial today showing a child coming home from school and the parents being too “busy” for their kids we’ve decided that it’s time: We are unplugging the tv for a week. ”
We’re Going Unplugged, October 10th

One thing I think is clever, but perhaps obvious to most besides me, is that Becky actually physically unplugged the TV in order to avoid little fingers turning it on. Of course even the littlest children know how to push buttons and could turn on a TV with no problem. Plus, as Becky says: “…it is truly unplugged, which also means that I have to make a conscious decision to turn it back on.”

Becky is also trying to cut down on the amount of time she spends online. I must admit that the computer is also my weakness. During my TV Turn-Off Week Blog Challenge I cut back too, but it was hard.

Read about Becky’s first unplugged day here. It sounds like it was a pretty good day. Her oldest boy Will (age 5) was thrilled to play more trains, and Nathan (age 2) was a bit perplexed, but all was going fairly smoothly as of the time of her post.

She also posted an update today:

“Mornings have been less hectic. I don’t have to remind Will *quite* so much to get ready, brush teeth, etc. because the tv is not on to distract him. We’ve played trains or read books before school every day this week. The house is quieter. It’s nice.”

They have not been completely TV-free. The family has turned it on for a little while around 3PM, but only for a bit. The reduction in the amount of TV her family has watched seems to have made Becky pretty happy so far. She and her husband Jeff have been able to spend more time as a family, which was their main goal.

Becky’s “unplugged week” continues. Please stop by Boys Rule My Life to follow her family’s progress and wish them well!

How Much TV Do American Babies Really Watch?

By , September 26, 2007 10:26 am

I haven’t written directly about TV and kids in a while, but this morning I happened to stumble upon this interesting recent study published in the May 2007 Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, entitled Television and DVD/Video Viewing in Children Younger Than 2 Years.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under age 2 years, watch no TV. But how much TV are children under 24 months really watching? This study attempts to answer that question.

The findings:

– By 3 months of age, about 40% of children regularly watched TV, DVDs or videos.

– By 24 months of age, 90% of children regularly watched TV, DVDs, or videos.

– The median age at which regular media exposure was introduced was 9 months.

– Average viewing time per day for children less than 1 year: 1 hour

– Average viewing time per day for children ages 1 to 2: more than 1.5 hours

– Parents watched with their children more than half the time, but only 32% watched with their child every time.

– Most common reasons for media exposure in children less than 2: education, entertainment, babysitting.


“Parents should be urged to make educated choices about their children’s media exposure. Parental hopes for the educational potential of television can be supported by encouraging those parents who are already allowing screen time to watch with their children.”

(Study was based on a telephone survey of 1,009 parents of children ages 2 months – 24 months, and was conducted by Frederick J. Zimmerman, PhD; Dimitri A. Christakis, MD, MPH; and Andrew N. Meltzoff, PhD.)

You can read the brief summary here, and the full article (which provides much more detail) here.

Another Blogger – Unplugged!

By , June 11, 2007 10:48 am

I have recently come upon another blogger who is trying to unplug her family. Celtic Mommy and her family have decided to give TV-free life it a try! So far, she has written three posts on her progress.

Post number one concerns her observations through Day 3. Already by Day 3 she noticed that she had more time to crochet and take walks. Her two little boys didn’t seem to miss TV and were sleepier at bedtime (a definite plus!).

Her second post is entitled “Unplugged Evolution (a.k.a. Day 7).” Here Celtic Mommy describes happier meal times, the joy of cooking with music instead of a TV show, and a realization: “As I drifted off, I thought about everything we’d done this weekend and realized much of it could not have been done if the boob tube had been on.” She also says: “Today will be day seven of many many more days of being “unplugged” in the house. In just six short days, I have noticed a change in Emerson’s play habits and attention span.”

Post number three is a quick update: During a morning walk they pass by the filming of what they at first thought was a TV show (it actually turned out to be a movie). TV can be hard to escape, especially in Southern California!

Celtic Mommy’s observations of the change in behavior of her son are not unusual. In a National Survey of TV-free families, one of the academic benefits of life without TV was reported to be the following: “A much longer attention span in TV free children was noted in more than 200 different essays. Comments included: Where there is boredom, creativity and self-motivation often emerge!”

I have found my own children to exhibit long attention spans for their ages and a high degree of creative play and thinking. Since my children have never had TV I have no real point of comparison, however my observations have been backed up by positive comments from their teachers.

One final thought: Celtic Mommy has also noticed “[t]he looks you get from family and friends… you’d think I’ve grown a second head when I mention that we are not watching TV to some people.” This is true and many times I have experienced the same reaction, which always amuses me.

WARNING: I am stepping on my soapbox now! I do wish that a family living without TV was not such an unusual phenomenon in our society. I firmly believe that children can only benefit from less electronic stimulation and more quiet, creative time. Why are we so surprised that kids today have short attention spans and are easily “bored” when they are constantly bombarded by the noisy, flashy, and often violent world of TV or video games?

It is hardly even possible any more to go out to lunch without enduring multiple TVs all on different channels, often with music playing on top of this cacophony. Have we humans become incapable of spending a peaceful hour or two over a quiet lunch engaged in simple conversation with one another?

Life without TV is fun and beneficial for everyone! Thank you Celtic Mommy for giving it a try! If anyone else out there has a TV Turn-Off story to tell, or wants to give it a try and report back, please let me know and I will link to you too. If you want to try it, but don’t have a blog of your own, please send me an email and I will post your observations here!

I am stepping off my soapbox now! So, how is the weather where you are today?

(For more info on “turning it off,” check out my Unplug TV Resources links in the left sidebar and my post: TV Turn-Off Week Is Over! Now What?)

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