“I fear that the biggest regret we will have as a generation of parents is that we allowed technology to steal our opportunities for memory making with our children. What unintended consequences will excessive plugging-in have on our children’s development?”
–Emily C. Daigle, Founder
Unplugged Us is about building a community of like-minded parents who are committed to working together to build awareness and restore balance as we examine our screentime habits and the impact of these habits on our children. Unplugged Us is not about eradicating technology from our lives: technology is here to stay and it can be a great tool! To be clear, our definition of screen time specifically relates to non-educational screen use. More than ever, our children need to be able to access their education through technology: our mission is to address and support the screen time habits that live in the "leisure" world.
Our personal goal is to share over two decades of experience with you so that we can bring you strategies, tips, support, resources, and motivation as you set goals for your family and celebrate successes as we all work to reclaim unplugged balance. Whether you identify a need for small change or you have significant concerns about your child's screen use, we are here to support you. We anticipate that our children will surprise us as they rediscover how to entertain themselves without a screen in-hand: and they will be happier and healthier as a result of our parenting efforts!
In recent years, I have developed a growing concern for the amount of time today’s families are spending plugged into devices. I have met with many parents who have children that are school avoidant, struggling to engage, and challenged by depression and anxiety. When I suggest reigning in screen use I have had multiple parents tell me that they are too worried to take devices due to their child’s response. In extreme cases, parents have shared that their children have become physically aggressive over screen limits, so they allow technology dependency to continue: thus perpetuating the addictive hold that technology has on their child.
Outside of work, I often have discussions with friends in my mom-tribe who share similar concerns: getting kids to unplug is becoming a daily struggle. My doctoral research in the field of social-emotional learning has only affirmed these concerns as empirical data continues to provide evidence that technology is affecting our lives and the lives of our children.
Founding Unplugged Us grew out of these concerns, culminating with observations I have made out in the community: of families plugged in at restaurants, waiting for appointments, toddlers staring at screens while riding in grocery carts, children bringing devices to their own sporting events, and cub scout activities, and showing up to playdates with an iPad in hand. As a mom, I know this is an inconvenient truth: unplugging means committing to conscious parenting, maybe getting less “done”, perhaps allowing some mess and chaos as our kids play more again, and putting down our own devices to model good habits. I challenge you to become a technology anthropologist: what do you observe in your own community?
I fear that if we do not gain back some control, that the biggest regret we will have as a generation of parents is that we allowed technology to steal our opportunities for memory making with our children. When we plug-in we lose everyday moments, we zone out, and we foster bad habits that lead to technology battles as our kids get more addicted to their devices.
What unintended consequences will excessive plugging-in have on our children’s development? When children are plugged-in they play less in 3D space, they communicate less, they socialize less, they problem-solve less, they miss moments for creative and imaginative play and they miss authentic opportunities to develop their social-emotional skillsets. All of this has of course been amplified by Covid-19, our kids need to be plugged-in for school, so this added non-educational time is in addition to the time already spent on school devices. What will the ramifications be for a generation of children who rarely experience time unplugged?
This total immersion in technology has happened so quickly. It has been difficult to keep up with the evolution of accessibility. Technology boundaries don’t exist unless we create them. Technology has made us available all of the time: when we are home we can still be at work, when our children are in front of us we have devices in our hands. We may think that we are multitasking and accomplishing more, but the reality is that we are missing out.
There is good news though, just like with every other aspect of parenting we are the adults and we get to set the limits. Sometimes we all just need to hit reset. I look forward to supporting you through this journey!