When a master plan goes south

I am a technology Nazi.  I have managed to keep video games, computer games, and most toys that run on batteries out of my house for the better part of 10 years.  When the kids were smaller, we found that when the rogue fancy toy made its way into our house, the kids spent more time with the box.  Ultimately, said toy would drain its own batteries, and Avery would take it apart and use the circuit board inside as a spy gadget or robot decoration for the Kleenex tower he built.

A few years ago, I folded and allowed Santa to bring a Wii.  I created strict rules which included only games that forced you to be moving, and if the sun is out, no Wii.  The latter of these rules meant that for the better part of summer, the Wii sat dormant.  I’m okay with this.  When the odd rainy day rolled around, the kids had forgotten the Wii existed and resorted to crayons, blocks, Barbies, and board games. This is all part of my master plan.

Some would argue that there are toys out there that benefit learning, and there are, but why bother when you can sit with a coloring book to enhance fine motor skills, dress up clothes for pretend play, build castles and cities with blocks, and mom can read books instead of the book reading itself.

Along the way, with each passing year, it has become harder.  Avery and Ruby have both come home complaining that friends are allowed to play online, or why don’t we have more video games.  School has assigned work that has required Google searches, and even before that, teachers have sent home web sites like SpellingCity.com and MathMagician.com, both of which are fantastic resources for learning.  However, they sabotage my quest to keep my kids in a somewhat Amish household.  But it is a slippery slope.  What started out as school work has morphed into aimless hours of YouTube videos.

To help myself maintain control over that which I have lost control of, I have set up time limits and earning charts.  The kids have to complete chores to earn their technology time.  This has worked some, but they argue with me over time on the computer required for school, and how it’s not fair for me to let that cut into their earned time, etc., etc.

On top of this, Avery spent the summer doing odd jobs and chores to earn money to buy himself a 3DS, a really cool handheld by Nintendo.  Now he uses his computer time to look up games and programs to download on his DS, and we’ve lost control over when the DS gets used.   We require homework, housework, and everything necessary to be done before the DS comes out, but it still feels like he spends way too much time with this little machine.  Now, instead of hearing plans for gadgets and spy games and robots when his friends come over, I hear silence, beeps and laser sounds as boys sit side-by-side with their video games.

For Christmas, Avery got turtles, Ruby got a giant box of art supplies and Rita got an easel.  For the time being, the DS and the computer sit idle longer.   When the Wii gets turned on, the kids play along with my forced dance contests.  For now, I am accepting life for kids in 2012 is different than 1982.  But don’t get me started on a cell phone.

How do you advance with technology?

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