Our kids love their tech — from iPods to hand held games to game consoles and TV. They have reached the age where the time-out is no longer effective as a means of getting their attention and helping them learn from their choices. We have found something, however, in taking away their tech. We call it “being unplugged.”
“Being unplugged” lasts usually a few days to a week. The GameBoys, the Nintendo DS, and the iPod all come to GeekMom and GeekDad. In addition, there’s no game console playing, no being on the computer (the one exception being homework), and no TV. Basically anything that is plugged in or charged is off-limits for the duration.
We reserve getting unplugged for a couple things: not turning in schoolwork and a growing consistency in neglecting their household chores. When the kids ask why they are being unplugged, we explain that if they are failing to turn in homework or do their chores, then we want to make sure they have time to get those things done. Without gaming, the computer, and TV they now have lots of time to do what they need to do.
The kids are not grounded. They can go outside, they can play boardgames, they can read, they can do pretty much what they want — except use their tech — and it is very effective for getting homework completed and turned in or re-enforcing more consistent habits for chores … particularly if the family is watching a favorite TV show or movie and they need to be in another room doing something non-electronic.
It breaks them from their routine and gets them thinking about getting the stuff done that they need to. We put up with some grumbles; however, we also see the kids very motivated to correct what caused them to be unplugged in the first place.