According to research, as many as 420 million people may have Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD). Also referred to as compulsive Internet use, IAD is an impulse control disorder that can isolate those it afflicts from friends and family. As a parent, this large number hardly comes as a surprise, given that even pre-teen children are becoming increasingly obsessed with social networks, gadgets and online games. If you've become concerned with your family's electronic obsession, it's time to take action! However, your approach will determine your overall success. Rather than enlisting the short-term tactic of grounding your family members from their devices, why not commit to long-term success by offering up a season full of opportunities to do something better?
By providing a variety of fun fall activities as an alternative, you can help your family unplug and reconnect with one another this season. Ready to get started on your schedule for fun family events? Check out these 10 on-season ideas to get out and enjoy some time with your family, sans WiFi connection!
1. Brainstorm activities as a family
Call a family meeting and create a fall bucket list. To help your family warm up to the idea of unplugging, let each person choose a few activities he or she enjoys and schedule one activity per week throughout the season. If your family likes getting crafty, make a fall bucket list garland and hang it in the kitchen or another high-traffic area.
2. Jump in leaves
Jumping in a colossal pile of leaves will bring out the kid in every member of your family. Supply everyone with a rake and challenge your crew to make the biggest leaf pile on the block. Then jump to your heart's content. This activity is easy, low-budget, and gets your family working as a team to tackle one of fall's common tasks.
3. Sleep under the stars
Camping is the quintessential family fun activity. If your crew isn't up for a weekend in the woods, pitch a tent in the backyard. Either way, stargazing and ghost stories are great alternatives to the Web.
4. Go geocaching
Geocaching is a worldwide treasure hunt where you find trinkets other geocachers have hidden and hide prizes of your own for the next geocacher to find. The adventure game requires a few minutes of online time, but it shows your family how the Internet can be used in a healthy, positive way. If you want a totally unplugged day of adventure, plan a scavenger hunt.
5. Navigate a corn maze
As your kids twist and turn through a corn maze they'll forget all about their iPad and Xbox. If a corn maze isn't an option, treat your family to an old-fashioned hayride or an age-appropriate haunted house.
6. Run a race
The cool temperatures of fall make it an ideal time to run, or walk, a race. Find one that benefits a charity, and give your family a high-five for getting active and helping others.
7. Gather the neighbors
Organize a neighborhood game of touch football, host an apple-bobbing contest or throw a pumpkin-carving party. Whatever event you choose, plan it as a family and divvy up the work.
8. Make a fall scrapbook
Buy each family member a disposable camera to take pictures of your fall activities. Print the pictures and make a scrapbook that showcases how much fun it is to get out and enjoy the season.
Working together to help the less fortunate is a surefire way to come together as a family. Use a website like VolunteerMatch or JustServe.org to find local volunteer opportunities that appeal to your family.
10. Plant a family garden
Fall is the time to plant bulbs that come up in the spring. As a family, decide what seeds to plant, prepare the soil, and get dirty! Your kids can create homemade garden labels so you don't forget what you've planted.
Seasonal activities like these help you start the traditions that bring your family closer together throughout the years. On top of this, they serve as an excellent reminder to you and your family that there is more fun to be had outside of the digital world! There's no better time than the present to teach your children the value of building strong, lasting relationships with friends and family members.