The Summer My Parents Turned Off the Computer

“If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away.” (Matthew 5:29a)

Long-awaited summer had finally arrived!

My brothers and I, ages 9, 11, and 13, were thrilled to be finished with another year of homeschooling. The main thrill was that, instead of having only half an hour of computer time scheduled around our school assignments, we now had lots more free time—and we planned to spend most of it playing games on the computer!

Boy playing computer gameBefore that year, we’d played very few computer games. Since moving to a new house and setting up our first desktop computer for family use, we’d started playing more games, and we were quickly becoming addicted to the “Civil War Generals” battlefield game.

Joseph and I each spent half an hour practicing music each day, and we would often alternate that with our computer time (he would practice while I was on the computer, and then we would trade places). My computer time always seemed to go by much faster than my violin practicing!

Anyway, we were done with school and enjoying our new-found freedom. I probably mowed the lawn or worked in the garden that morning, but I spent the whole afternoon on the computer.

The same thing happened the next day. And the next…And the next…

Pretty soon, we started to resent working outside. I would do my chores quickly, but my only goal was to get back to the computer and continue my Civil War Generals campaign. I’m ashamed to say that anything (or anyone) that kept me away from my computer games started to make me irritated and crabby.

My parents finally decided that something needed to change, or we’d spend the rest of our summer (and maybe the rest of our lives) holed up in the dark closet glued to the computer screen.

They brought us all together in the living room. They said the computer was becoming too important and taking too much of our time, and that for at least several weeks, we would not be using the computer at all.

This news was a severe blow to our plans for the summer, leaving us sprawled on the couch in a state of withdrawal and disbelief.

Later on, Mama walked by and suggested we go outside. We couldn’t think of anything else to do, so we did.

It didn’t take long away from the computer for our creativity to start flowing again. Before that day was over, we were gathering wood, pipe, and bicycle parts to build a Civil War cannon. By the end of the summer, we’d recruited our friends, sewn our own uniforms, built our own gun replicas, and reenacted several Civil War battles in our field.

The cannon we made from scrap wood, pipe, and bicycle partsWe discovered a creek at the back edge of our property and built an entire civilization of miniature mud huts and tree houses around it. We built forts out of scrap wood. We helped Daddy dig and transplant trees all around the property (they’re all too big to move now!). We also learned to work much more cheerfully around the house again.

I am thankful, looking back on that summer, that my parents had the courage and the wisdom to say “no” to the computer and to channel our energy towards something more active and creative. Without their guidance, I probably would have wasted most of my summer.

Use Your Summer Wisely

We use computers for lots more things now than we did 14 years ago, but unplugging it for a while still might not be a bad idea, especially if you have little ones. This might make more time to do fun things together as a family— things like growing a garden, reading books together, taking a picnic to a park for an evening, or going on a family trip together.

Next week, I’ll share more ideas for encouraging your children’s creativity and handling computers and TV wisely. If you have an idea to share, please comment below. Let’s learn from each other!

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  1. I plan to cut down drastically for the month of August and focus on discipling my children in a more intentional and intense manner. I am anticipating change but also fun with my kids. They don’t even know about it yet!

    My children do not use the computer but rarely because it causes a lot of problems with discontentment. Unfortunately, I cannot keep the technology away from them forever. :-/

  2. Timely thoughts! I look forward to ideas for fostering creativity, especially for the teen group.
    We’ve had to “pull the plug” several times with good results. It would be easier (especially for parents) to just say no. But, with technology being an important part of life these days it just isn’t reasonable unless God specifically directs us to go completely without. We currently have opted to use Norton Safety Minder program to put limits on PC usage and monitor online social sites such as facebook. It has been a great relief and help.
    I still wish for a no-technology home though.

  3. Kristin Yoshimura

    I am so proud of you! I am going to have my children read this blog post out loud to each other right now!! It’s also so important that I set an example with my own behavior. Sometimes it is hard to turn this thing off and I’m a grown-up.

  4. The Teaching Home just sent an email newsletter on using our time wisely in the Summer. This has some great ideas: Newsletter #311 The Use of Our (Summer) Time

  5. Wonderful article! I really enjoyed it, and everything was so true!

  6. We have been tackling the TV lately. I had the kids pick their favorite show, which they are allowed to watch, along with movie night with daddy. They are happily catching grasshoppers and watching the garden grow. We have to be more diligent in the winter. Thanks for this post!

  7. Our family is so crazy-busy in the summer, we don’t have to worry about media usage. Though we don’t have television, we do watch videos, but we even cut out Netflix for the summer, knowing that we don’t have time to watch even one movie a week!

    Though we don’t play any type of video games, we had a popular typing instructional CD on the computer that we used to teach typing to even our youngest children. I began to notice that one son in particular would rush through his chores to get on the computer to play one of the games on this CD. I saw the signs of troublesome behavior and finally removed the program from the computer, trashed the CD and saved our son from video game addiction.

    Your parents are very wise, Daniel!

  8. It’s almost the same for me…

    I’m spending every day of my summer holiday that my mum manages to catch me on doing violin practices! I don’t understand why I have to do this! I do longer pratices in the holidays and weekends than in school time ( I’m welling up in tears AS I write this it is so painful.) !! I’m still young so my mum can still boss me around and force me to do practices.

    I hate it. I just want it to stop but I don’t want anything bad to happen to my mum! <='(

  9. Wait I just re-read the artical, its not the same for me… It’s very different.

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