Sticking with my No TV or computer in my kids’ bedroom

Ever since Jase was young and would easily fall asleep in front of the TV, my husband has occasionally brought up the idea of putting a TV in his room. And as Jase uses a computer more and more (mostly for play instead of homework), my husband has also suggested we give him his own computer for his room.

On both these accounts, I am firmly against it. I don’t see any reason Jase or Lexie need to be holed up in their room watching TV or glued to the Internet without any contact from the rest of us.

large-cartoon-tv-0-12713There are two TVs in the house. They have free use of them, and each child has their own profile set up on Netflix. We can clearly check to see what they have been watching. (My kids pretty much have never watched regular cable TV. It has always been iTunes or Netflix.)

One report I read said 71% of American kids between 8 and 18 had a TV in their room. (By the way, more boys than girls have TVs in their room. I can only speculate that has something to do with gaming systems.) Researchers followed up with those in the study two and four years later. They found that those with TVs in their room tended to be overweight and continued to gain weight.

0bb52e4a68920cf04dd0017cbaa3be5e_laptop14-cartoon-clipart-for-laptop_1600-1200Jase and Lexie have a computer to use. It is in our office right next to mine. They have even come up with their own schedule for using the computer. And since the computer is in the office, my husband and I can monitor what they watch or play.

They are both really into watching YouTube videos and while their YouTube apps on their iPads have restrictions, I don’t believe there is any on the computer. Occasionally we tell them that what they are watching is inappropriate (usually because of bad language).

If they are in their room, I would not be able to monitor their Internet usage. I would have to rely soley on security settings and monitoring their web browser history. And at this point, they don’t NEED a computer for school work. It would only be for entertainment, and I feel much better having them use the computer out where I can monitor them.

apple-ipadUnfortunately, since the kids do have iPads with internet access, it is almost the same thing as having a computer in their room. And yes, we do allow them to watch it in their room. Jase sometimes hides what he is watching, but it is more for fear that we will tell him that he shouldn’t be watching something rather than him chatting online. (And he always lets us see what he is watching when we ask.)

We do have age restrictions on their iPads. All their purchases have to go through us, and we have to know all passwords. Their email accounts automatically copies my husband. Yes, I realize as they get older we will need to do more monitoring, and at some point we may not allow them to charge their devices in their rooms in an effort to stop them from texting or playing online when they should be sleeping.

But it is unrealistic to think that not having a computer in the bedroom will keep them totally safe. They can access the Internet from a friend’s house or at school. And no amount of filters will ever keep all the bad things away from them. So it is up to us as parents to keep talking to them about their online usage and monitoring it the best we can. It is about us teaching them proper usage of technology – whether it is in the terms of Internet safety or in the moderation of its use.

Technology’s effect on writing

laptopWriting a book today is not like it was twenty or thirty years ago. Technology has brought us a long way. No longer are authors writing their novels out in longhand on notepads or typing them on a typewriter. Nowadays, most writers use a word-processing program on their Mac or PC.

Actually, you don’t even need a desktop computer. You can write your novel on a laptop or tablet which allow you to write not just at home but anywhere.

Having your novel in a digital format makes it easier to rewrite chapters or to edit. No longer do you have to type the whole thing over or use correction tape. You can just click your mouse and delete or add whatever you need.

In many ways, technology has helped authors.

If you have problems typing, there is voice-recognition software where you can simply dictate your novel. (Of course, there are companies that will transcribe your dictated work but to me this isn’t the same thing as being able to rewrite or change something right when you think of it versus waiting for your transcribed document to be returned.)

I even have used a voice recorder to take down ideas for my novel as I am working around the house or driving in the car.

But the biggest advancement (besides the word-processing programs would be using the Internet for research. Yes, you can still go to the library to do your research, but the Internet lets you do it quicker and from the comfort of your own home.

Simply type a few words into a search engine, and you can find huge amounts of information on pretty much any subject. So now instead of sifting through heavy books, you can spend hours reading different sites on the various topics.

This of course brings up a problem. There is a lot of misinformation out there. There is no filter for what is published here. You will have to decipher what is the truth about what is posted on the Internet.

But if you want to know how something works or view pictures of videos of a foreign location, it is quite easy to find these things on the Internet.

E-mail also is a big help with being able to converse with experts in the field quicker than sending a letter and without being as intrusive as a phone call.

The Internet through websites and social media outlets also allows readers to better connect with their readers. This allows for greater communication and feedback than ever before.

But being connected, also had its disadvantages. There are so many things that can distract you from writing – Facebook, web surfing, shopping, Twitter, Instagram, e-mail and YouTube. Each of these can be a huge drain on time.

Overall, I think technology makes an author’s life easier as long as you can stay away from those time-sucking other activities.



Focusing on Writing: Cutting out time wasting activities

Surprised woman in front of clock uid 1271830I will be the first to admit it – I am not always the best at managing my time. I too easily get sucked into time wasters. You know what I am talking about – those tasks such as checking email and Facebook or surfing the web take up more time that you realize. Unfortunately, those time wasters are stealing my writing time.

Here are some tips to help avoid those time wasters.

1.) Set limits on time suckers

Facebook, Twitter, email and the Internet easily can take up a lot of your time. Now I am not saying you should not work on building relationships with other writers or fans, or you shouldn’t market your other books but you need to set aside a certain time to do it – preferably after you have met your writing goal for the day.

It may help not unplug your network connection if you can’t resist the temptation to surf the web. And while you are at it, turn off your phone.

2.) Write when others aren’t around

The best time to write is when you are alone. It may be during lunch at your empty office or early in the morning before everyone gets up. But people – especially children – can be a great distraction. If you can’t write when no one is around, work on finding a time to write where you can hang a Do Not Disturb sign on your door. If your children are old enough, they can be taught to give you some alone time to write.

3.) Focus on your goal

Know what you want to accomplish when you sit down to write. It could be writing a set number of pages or words, editing a chapter or two or developing a character. Refuse to become involved in anything that doesn’t move you closer to accomplishing your goal. If it helps, let others who will hold you accountable know of your goal. (Next week I will cover how to set realistic writing goals.)

4.) Be Prepared to Write

Authors often talk about finding time to write, but really it isn’t about finding time as much is it about making time to write. Finding time means you are squeezing writing between other activities. The problem with this is that depending on how busy your schedule is you may or may not actually get any writing done.  I am so guilty of this.

Making time to write is proactive. It means you build your schedule around your writing. Knowing that you are going to sit down and write needs to be a conscious choice. Knowing that you are putting writing first makes it easier to ignore things that pop up to interrupt your writing time.

Remember that your writing time should be just for that – writing. You only have a limited amount of time for writing so get to it!