Last week, for the first time ever, I had to ground my foster teenager. Her grades are slipping rapidly, and on Sunday night at 9:30 pm her three simple weekend chores and her homework had not yet been completed. Yet she had plenty of time to goof around on the Internet all weekend.
Her punishment was losing access to her favorite website (Tumblr) for a week, and from now on the Internet will be shut off at our house from 3pm onwards. She has about 45 minutes of Internet access a day now, more than enough to fetch or turn in her assignments. She doesn't really seem to need the Internet to do her homework, but I can turn it back on at will if she does need it. I prefer not to do things this way - she should develop good work and study habits without an external force (me) taking the distractions away from her, but this is what we're going to have to try for now.
I spent about an hour the other day figuring out how to block the Internet in our router so it automatically turns off at the right time every day. That way I don't have to mess with turning it on and off every day around 3. I do trust her to not use the Internet if she knows she's been told not to, and I don't want or need to mess with hiding the router every day. I just thought this was the easiest solution.
I decided to participate in the grounding and have my own computers lose access to the Internet every day at 3pm too! So far this has made her feel guilty that her actions have caused me to lose the Internet too (laugh!)
I'm not sure how this is going to work because I work for myself, work for a family business, work for an author and sell on eBay. To accomplish all these things, I use the Internet all day and all night long (when I'm not out running errands or socializing). I am not sure I can get all my work done in the nine hours between 6am when she leaves and 3pm when the Net goes off.
So far, I found that I get so much more done now that I'm forced to prioritize my work time during the day, and then find other ways to do projects or entertain myself in the evening with no Internet. Here's some things I've done in the first four days of my experiment:
- Read four books in two days! My return-to-the-library pile of books by the front door has grown!
- Watched a couple more television shows than I normally do, out of boredom and being too tired to clean. I actually focused on the shows, not being able to grab the computer to research something or look something else up while I was watching.
- Sorted a pile of old family video tapes and video camera tapes and did research on how to convert them so we can watch them again and archive them.
- Cooked more, making soup and mashed potatoes from scratch and baking bread, making a potato salad and a couple other things I wouldn't have made time for during the workweek.
- Did less housework during the day (which I normally do to stall my other work!) but more at night
- Phoned relatives more than I would have. With six hours between the Internet going off and bedtime, I had plenty of time to chat with my grandfather, a great aunt and uncle, and a cousin.
- Sorted through a stack of photos, archived some and mailed some off to family members
- Caught up with my pile of mail, catalogs and magazines.
I really enjoyed this experiment and think I will continue it as long as I can. I did find I got a bit twitchy wondering what was going on in my email and on Facebook every evening when I couldn't get on to check. I did just get a huge pile of new work, so I might have to give myself a couple hours per evening of Internet access. I bet I'll focus better and spend less time multitasking and playing games on Facebook while I work!
For now, I'm really enjoying having six hours a night I wouldn't have had otherwise, to clean, do projects, cook and read!.
Have you ever experimented with forcibly turning your Internet off in order to help yourself and your family focus, spend more time doing other things, or prioritize? How did it work for you?