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Unplugging Your Kids - a Teen's Perspective

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A teenage boy listens to music while using his laptop computer.
Technology is so engrained in everyday life that it can be hard to get your teen to unplug.

A couple sits outside enjoying the warmth of a fire, watching the sunset over Utah's Monument Valley. Their kids, however, sit inside. Their son is playing video games, and their daughter is using the computer - and both have been doing so for the past two hours. Unplugging your kids is a crucial step towards their happiness, your happiness, and the happiness of the family as a whole.

Most teens (and adults for that matter) text. But, what happens when it is done in excess? My sister, for example, sent 21,000 texts in one month. It affected her grades, the amount of free time she had, and her overall attitude to the outside world. There are also many other things that can make a teenager be "plugged-in." They can play video games, as I did. I spent countless hours playing video games inside the RV while my parents sat outside by the campfire in many different beautiful places around the country. When I look back on it now, I realize that it was a complete waste of precious time. Sure, video games are great for entertainment, but they often take lot of time away from you that could be better spent in other, more beneficial, ways.

To many teens, plugging-in is something that they do almost every day that involves connecting to some social network, such as Facebook, MySpace, or Twitter. Oftentimes they text, or they play video games. No matter what it is, plugging-in has to do with something electronic. "Why do they like it so much?" you might ask. Most teens simply plug-in to connect with friends or to relax. Others, however, may plug-in as a way to escape from the real world. Maybe they are upset with their life, or maybe they want to change it, but they feel like they can't. Video games are a good way to escape, and I know from personal experience.

If you ask a normal teen what they do in their free-time, they will most likely answer with things such as going on Facebook or playing Call of Duty (a video game involving very realistic war situations). Plugging-in can lessen the amount of time a teen has, alter their attitude, and change their overall outlook on life in the real world. So, as you can imagine, unplugging is a good thing. Your teen will have time to spend on more beneficial activities, such as drawing or reading. Even if they don't like these things, they will find something that they do like. Since I have given up playing video games, I have started paint-balling, playing the didgeridoo, and doing some woodworking. I have also had much more time to spend with my family: playing cards, going for walks, or simply talking. All of us have benefited.

Although unplugging will help your teen and your family, they probably will not want to unplug at first. I sure didn't. When my parents told me I couldn't play video games for the rest of the night, I couldn't think of anything else to do rather than something that involved being plugged-in. If you want to unplug your teen, the first thing you need to do is to find something else that they like to do. Maybe swimming, playing baseball, even throwing knives, but you have to find something that your teen enjoys more than playing video games or texting. Secondly, your teen must unplug his/her self. It's no good trying to force it on them (you can, but this will probably end up in anger and arguments), but rather you should find the things that your teen enjoys and let them slowly switch their time from their previous activities to their new ones. Thirdly and lastly, you must show your support for what your teen is doing. It's definitely not as easy as it sounds.

Once it's all over, your teen will realize what a difference unplugging has made. They will be happier, playing sports or an instrument, and you will be happier, spending time with your teen. Your family will be happier as a whole, as you all enjoy the warmth of a fire and watch the sun set over Utah's Monument Valley.

Joshua May is thirteen years old and has been traveling the US for the past four years. He travels with his parents and his sister Ally, fifteen. If you'd like to learn a little more about Josh, Ally, and their families' adventures, check out my book, From High-Tech to High Plains, available in paperback and digital download from the TechnoRV website.

Copyright ©2012 Camping Road Trip, LLC

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