During the school week, our weekend-only computer game rule seems genius. We don't have TV, so they are free to read or play, practice piano, draw, do a puzzle, ride bikes...
We'll often watch a movie together in the evenings, which I don't mind one bit, and the boys even have e-books they read online for their reading homework, so the school-week isn't screen-free. We're just protected from constant requests to play games and watch YouTube videos, since they know the rule.
But the weekend is when it gets a little tricky. In theory, I'm not against games. I grew up with lots of tv and Nintendo time, and I was fine, a very good student and normal person. I just don't like how everything that entertains the boys midweek is forgotten when the computer comes on. M reads books for hours. He would read all day if we let him. But once the computer is fired up, his books are forgotten. L loves to play creative, imaginary games... Just not on the weekend.
They know they aren't allowed to play "first thing in the madrugada" but there isn't a set hour. So sometime after breakfast, one or the other of the boys will wander upstairs and then it starts. And once it's on, that's all they want to do.
I institute technology breaks at random intervals because I want them to do other things and have fun without the computer. But I'm just as bad. If I don't have anything going on, a whole hour or more can trickle by while I mess around on my phone. Mildly entertained, but not really doing anything special.
If I want my kids to know there's more to life than passively using technology, I need to show them. I know it's not rocket surgery, but if I'm not exposing them to fun and interesting things to do offline, why should I be surprised that they keep going back to the computer? Art projects, outings, cooking or baking, experiments, sensory activities, exploring, writing, building, board games... I need to step up my game. I have often told myself (and them!) that I am not responsible for my kids' fun. But I do have some say in how their preferences form. No more slacking.
Yesterday we made oobleck and slime. For a while, technology was forgotten.
Just a while. But at least they know how to make them now, and might think of them again.
Later that afternoon, we (finally) took down the boys' Halloween things and decorated a paper Christmas tree on their door. It may not be much to look at, but it represents an hour that nobody asked if they could watch Ninja Turtle videos on YouTube or play Snailbob.