Annie Fox's Blog...

Thoughts about teens, tweens, parenting and this adventure of living on Earth in the 21st century.

Annie Fox, M.Ed., is an internationally respected parenting expert, award-winning author, and a trusted online adviser for tweens and teens.

Holiday Focus on Family

December 17, 2013

Excerpted from my book, Teaching Kids to Be Good People.

A no-tech solution to connection addiction

While we’re all moving in ten directions at once, online and off, the notion of evenings and weekends where parents and kids spend unplugged time together is laughably retro. But life is neither virtual nor infinite. We’ve got to create an antidote to 21st century craziness otherwise our kids will grow up without us really knowing them and without them knowing us.

Listening (the old- fashioned way) with open eyes, mind, and heart is the best way we connect with our kids, and teach them how to connect with others. That’s what we want from them and for them. They need it now while they’re still learning about healthy relationships from us, so they can use it later when they’re creating intimate relationships of their own.

How do we teach them that the people we care about aren’t just on Facebook and Twitter, they’re right here in the real world and they deserve our attention?

Fuel for Thought—Think about a relationship you have where the other person is often “distracted.” What’s it like being with him/her? Contrast that with someone who is normally “there” with you. Now think about the level of “there-ness” you give to your family. Set a goal for the next week: Do a better job being with your family when you’re actually with them. Do not allow distractions to get in the way. Observe what happens.

Conversations That Count—Talk with your partner and child(ten) about digital distractions, including phones, games, TV shows, and computers. Ask them to rate the family (on a 1–10 scale) regarding the presence of distractions while people are talking to each other.

(Scoring scale: 1 = When we talk to each other, we’re not doing anything else; 10 = When we talk to each other there’s always a “distraction” present.)

Your 21st century child may not even have noticed or considered these “distractions” as anything other than “normal.” Ask what s/he thinks family life (vis-à-vis “distractions”) might look like when s/he’s grown up with their own family.

Teach—Create an Unplugging Challenge. Start small and doable. For example, “On Saturday from 4:00–5:00 p.m. we’re unplugging for an hour to do something fun, together, as a family.” Be ready for pushback from tweens/teens. Remind them it’s only for one hour. “Surely you guys can last 60 minutes w/o FB?!” “Yeah, of course we can, but we don’t want to!!!”  The more resistance, the more likely your kids have a connection addiction. But don’t cave. Be upbeat. Take suggestions for a non-tech activity the family can do together for that short time. Play a board game, card game, make popcorn, build something, cook something, bake something, create something, take a walk, go for a bike ride, have an impromptu meal outside, read aloud from a mystery book, look at old family photos and tell stories. Etc. etc. Be together. Focus on each other. Have fun. Repeat often. Appreciate being a family. It’s the best gift there is during any season.

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Day 21: Kindness and Respect Challenge (The Apple, through my eyes)

October 21, 2013

My friend, filmmaker Tiffany Shlain, has created another cultural fog-buster in Technology Sabbath. In six minutes she sounds an alarm and gently nudges us to unplug and create time for the people we love and the non-tech activities that make us whole.

Inspired, I stayed offline from Friday evening til Sunday morning. No email, Twitter, FB. No IMDB, Wiki, Yelp. And absolutely no regrets. So what did I do for 36 hours without the Internet?! I did not climb walls, turn into Super Bitch, nor eat massive amounts of chocolate. Instead…

Early Saturday morning, after bagels and blueberry smoothies, David and I romped with The Pupster through the wet grass at the beautiful park over the hill. From there, we headed south to Puppy Training Class. Then up, up and up to Mt. Tam, for a hike through redwoods high above the bay. In the evening we met up for dinner with our lovely son and daughter-in-law, and her awesome parents.

And in between? While David worked and The Pupster sacked out in the sun? I crawled through a portal of my own devising, out of the 21st century and into a timeless time. And there I stayed for who knows how long, content simply to observe and draw an apple.

I started with this:

Simply beautiful. Beautifully simple.

 

Expressed it as this:

 

Gala Time Unplugged by Annie Fox

Then, like a guiless Black Widow, I devoured my model:

Delicious sweetness

And still, this remnant of a remnant continued to draw me into itself:

 

Trapped potential

Trapped potential

And hold me there:

Power unlocked

Until what remained was:

All that's needed to start anew

All that's needed to start anew

Enjoy your week, my friends. Be kind and respectful to yourself. Take the time you need to be outside of time.

 

 

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