An ice and snowstorm was predicted to hit our area during the night. While most Central Arkansans made a mad dash to Walmart, our family made a mad dash to … the library. We can live without extra milk and bread for a day or two, but books? Gotta have ’em if we have a snow day!

My mom was a teacher who loved to read and instilled that same passion in her kids. After we put on our pajamas, Mom would sit on the floor in front of the couch with a child on either side and three behind her on the couch while she took us on adventures across the prairie or on a journey with Bilbo and Frodo. Long after we were old enough to read ourselves, we were still gathering around Mom for the next chapter.

We did not always have a television in our home, but when we did, she was always monitoring and limiting our viewing. At one time, she thought we were watching too much TV, so she moved the large console to the garage. On a wintery Saturday morning, we grabbed our sleeping bags and curled up on lawn chairs to watch cartoons. The obsession to watch TV soon passed. I still prefer reading a book to watching a movie. You don’t want me on your team for any trivia game asking questions about movies or TV characters.

My kids are surrounded by electronic media — computers, game systems, TV, iPods, cell phones — and we are entering the “tween years.” We have in our home most modern electronics but are trying to set healthy limits while they are young.

  • During the school week, we do not watch television. The standard was set before they began school and has not been questioned. We have not subscribed to cable or satellite, so there is not much of interest to watch.
  • On Sunday, they receive “electronic tickets.” Each ticket is worth 30 minutes of screen time (computer or game system, excluding computer use for school work). For every 30 minutes of reading on their own, they can earn back a ticket. But they can also lose tickets for neglecting chores, etc.
  • Our computers and TV are in our family room and not allowed in the bedrooms. Filters are necessary on our computers. Before choosing a movie, we go online to check rating and content on Plugged In. The site offers reviews on movies, music, games, TV, and pop culture.
  • No electronics are used during dinnertime, including the telephone. All calls go to voicemail, the TV is off, and iPods and cell phones not allowed at the table.

At 7:45 p.m., the house is quiet except for Mom or Dad’s voice. The kids surround us, eager to hear about Tarzan’s adventure or about Kit’s next news scoop. I know to treasure these last remaining years that our kids are willing to still end the evening with a story. I would love advice from you on how to handle our media-driven culture as we move into the next stage of life!